"Du Pont Fiber Silk Company" was the label over the door when the plant went into operation in January of 1925.  In this new plant the company risked a large amount of capital in the still young synthetic yarn industry.  With the quality of yarn produced in those early days their returns were uncertain.     Source:  25th Anniversary - Old Hickory Rayon - 
Thinking Behind the Other Fellow
Robert L. Lewis, jr. - Rayon Yarns, March 1941

When Edison discovered that words and music could be recorded on a little round cylinder and then replayed on a device called the graphaphone, everyone thought of it as being perfect.

But look at the bright and colorful nickelodeon of today with the automatic record changer and remote control. This was accomplished because a few men thinking behind Edison, and using his machine for a start, developed the automatic record changer, added the nickel device, adopted the already present method of remote control, and lighted their machine finally with du Pont plastics.

This is only one example of thousands, the modern telephone, telegraph, cotton gin, streamlined autos, locomotives, and ocean liners, airplanes, sewing machines, steam engines and radio and television were once crude, awkward machines. But look at them today, more useful, more efficient, and more beautiful, all because a few men ‘thinking behind’ Bell, Morse, Whitney, the Wrights, Fulton, Howe, Watts, Marconi, and others added their improvements to the other’s inventions. Now these are owned by or are at the disposal of nearly everyone.

The same things have happened in our plants. Machines and processes have been developed and improved and we are producing the best product of its kind.

We can’t all be like the men who invented these machines, but if we keep thinking behind these men we may be able to improve on them.

And last but not least, great sums of money are paid out every year for the man who ‘thinks behind the other fellow.’

The Motorette

This is Edna Felder, DuPont registered nurse, in 1948.  Working shifts, she had a choice of hitch-hiking to the bus line, walking down a couple of miles of dark road, or paying a round trip cab fare of $1.50 every time she came to work.  She solved the problem by purchasing a Motorette, a two-passenger gasoline "scooter".  The Motorette cost about $300 in 1948 and got up to 50-60 miles per gallon with maximum speeds of 45 miles per hour.  This odd contraption was a one-cylinder, air cooled, four-horsepower motor and operated on a chain drive with an automatic shift.  There was no reverse, but turned around in the space on which it sat.


The Easier Way 
Rayon Yarns - September 1949
Charles Haney
Not long ago millwright Charles Haney had a job of drilling 4500 holes in each of four boiler plates which together weighed about 150 pounds.  That's 18,000 holes and by the time Haney had moved the bench drill up and down a few times by hand power he decided there must be a better way of doing the work.

He gave the matter a little thought and came up with a Rube Goldberg idea that turned the muscle-binding job before him into a pleasant pastime no more strenuous than manipulating a casting rod beside some sparkling stream.

Note:  Rube Goldberg was a Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist.  Through his 'INVENTIONS' cartoons, Rube Goldberg showed difficult ways to achieve easy results. His cartoons were, (as he said), symbols of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results.  Rube believed that there were two ways to do things: the simple way and the hard way, and that a surprisingly number of people preferred doing things the hard way.  Source:  http://www.rube-goldberg.com/

Bolting the four plates together, Haney fastened three wheels under them and set them on the floor.  He rigged the bench drill over them and fastened to it a length of pipe, two pulleys, a rope and a counter weight as shown in the picture.

By tugging gently on the end of the rope (see coil near Haney's right knee) he was able to make the drill feed automatically and with one hand he effortlessly moved the plates into the next position after each hole was drilled.

Of course there were those who made the usual cracks about working to get out of work and great inventions being made by lazy men.  But the real moving power behind this stroke of genius came to light later.

It seems that the city golf tournament was due to open in two weeks and Haney didn't aim to have a sore shoulder when he teed off for the first round.  


Note:  The graphaphone was the predecessor to the gramaphone, and is often confused with it. The difference is that the graphaphone used wax tablets to record the music on, and was of poorer sound quality. The wax tablets were often in the shape of a cylinder, and later in a platter shape (as shown above). In actuality, Edison invented the phonograph.  The graphaphone was an invention that took the concept of the phonograph and made it far superior.