Picture a garage.
It is more likely that you are picturing a lovely set of bespoke garage doors and an automobile with its hood up than a research laboratory or music room. Over the years, the humble garage has been the home to some amazing inventions and discoveries. The garage has become a cultural institution: a space of privacy, contemplation and acceptable chaos. Along with the proliferation of automobiles in the early 20th century, the garage became commonplace across the developed world. As well as being a place to store a car, it added a space onto the home that could be utilized for creative means away from the familial etiquette and obstructive silence of the home. Here are some of the most impressive things that have been invented in the car port.
Garage rock was a teenage revolution. It was rock and roll, but with a youthful, amateurish edge. It led directly to the punk movement. In the early to mid 1960s acts like The Monks and The Count Five made messy, homespun rebellious rock. The name ‘garage rock’ refers to the fact that garages provided the first practice rooms for the young groups, forming in the festering cauldron of post-war repressed suburbia.
The Dyson Vacuum
After seeing industrial cyclones lifting sawdust effortlessly from a factory floor, inventor James Dyson retreated into a farm coach house (an antiquated garage) and began work on a cyclone powered vacuum cleaner. The Dyson vacuum that he designed in his rural garage was a massive hit. It did away with wasteful and inefficient hoover bags and never lost suction. Aesthetically, it was an optimistic wink towards the beauty of industrial design, and is considered a classic bit of functional domestic tech.
It is probably thanks to Google that you are reading this article. It is hard to overestimate the omnipotent power that the Californian search engine firm has over our modern, networked lives.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1996 in the suburban garage of Susan Wojcicki. The two Stamford students theorized that by showing search results based on an algorithmic ranking system they could ensure that the most relevant pages were shown. The idea took off, and Google now operates out of the somewhat more plush ‘Googleplex’ in Silicone Valley.
Broadcast radio as we know it was invented in the Pittsburgh garage of Dr Frank Conrad in 1916. Radio had already been in use as a communication device for several years. Frank, however, was interested in transmitting to the public. He developed a 75 watt transmitter and played music from his phonograph into a microphone. Amateur radio operators tuned in to hear Dr Conrad’s regular shows, and the engineering firm Westinghouse took a great interest in making a commercial venture of broadcast radio. In 1920, the first broadcast radio station KDKA graced the airwaves for the first time. It wouldn’t have been possible without Dr Conrad’s tinkering about in the garage.