Essays on Science and SocietyGenomics and Proteomics

Paring down to the essentials

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Science  23 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6417, pp. 904
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav6872


In the early 1950s, television sets were complicated and expensive, putting them beyond the reach of most American households. To lower prices, businessman and engineer Earl “Madman” Muntz devised an ingenious solution (1). Armed with a pair of snippers, he would take a competitor's product and proceed to pluck off component after component until, inevitably, the device would break. At this point, he would put back the last piece removed and thereby restore function. In the end, he was left with a minimal design that contained only the essential circuit elements, which could then be manufactured at a reduced cost.

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