Tuesday, August 11, 2009

George Fullerton

I saw today that George Fullerton has died. It's not going to be national news, but his nonetheless he was important. His name will be revered whenever two men gather over a pre-CBS stratocaster or an L-2000 and drool.


I've always had a great appreciation for those, like the late Mr Fullerton, who tinker away behind the scenes, who make the unglamorous innovations and get largely passed over by history. I think people like this should be celebrated, not by having their roles exaggerated as some historians tend to do, but by having their contribution noted and appreciated for what it was. People writing histories tend to simplify things, they like to create heroes, visionaries, which are then mythologized as lone geniuses. These brilliant men are held up as the pinnacle of intellectual achievement, the importance of their teamwork, communication, and collaboration are left out.

When I'm writing about the history of science and technology I always try and give a mention to the other people, the people who laid the foundations or did the unglamorous bits. I always try to squeeze in people like Tommy Flowers (The Computer), Ernst Chain (Penicillin), Charlie Taylor (The Aeroplane), and Rosalind Franklin (DNA). Even though those people were, in turn, working with many other people, I feel like including at least one name in addition to the mythologized hero helps introduce at least the idea of collaboration, if not the actual extent of it.

I'm now going to go and play my bass (which is a faithful copy of a Fender-Fullerton design.)