Visionaries on Innovation

Personal Perspectives from Leading Innovators

The Henry Ford has been collecting America's most pivotal and influential stories in its Archive of American Innovation since 1929. The OnInnovation® videos and articles below showcase some of these stories--with oral history video clips from modern innovators, insights from our curators on historic innovators, and articles from The Henry Ford Magazine covering innovators of today and tomorrow.


Ideas rarely become innovations without the collaboration of numerous people. No one person has all the skills necessary to solve all the roadblocks between concept and final product.


Science as Sport

Through his science and technology focused organization FIRST, inventor Dean Kamen empowers young innovators to pursue their passions by teaching teamwork, cooperation, and professionalism.

The Explorer

Charles Elachi, head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and longtime space exploration enthusiast, reflects on the teamwork that landed a rover on Mars and counsels that with big risk comes big reward.

Practice Makes Perfect

For Wood Brothers Racing founders Glen and Leonard Wood, innovation runs in the family. The brothers discuss teamwork, running a highly successful NASCAR team, and what it took to pioneer the modern pit stop.

Watch: Collaboration is Power

Drawing on a life that took him from a tiny farm in rural Maryland to one of TIME 100 people who affect our lives the most, Will Allen discusses the importance of working with others.
Length: 1:08

Watch: Creating Good Teams

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO and business innovator Meg Whitman discusses the characteristics she looks for in team members to help teams flourish.
Length: 1:39

Break Rules

A healthy disrespect for what came before can lead to innovation, according to Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay. Entrepreneurs need to question everything, asking, “What is the truth and does it have to be that way?”


Serial Innovator

Creator of Ethernet, venture capitalist and networking engineer Bob Metcalfe talks technological innovation and what it takes to stay on the cutting edge of invention.

Turn Off the Tap

The co-founder of Method, a leading provider of eco-friendly home and personal care products, envisions a cleaner future for our oceans – and it starts with recycling and reusing existing plastic.

The Right Mentality

Emanuele Pirro drives innovation—literally. The Formula One driver describes the famous Edison2 ultra-efficient car and discusses the risks and technical challenges that come with building a groundbreaking new vehicle.

Breaking the Rules

Pierre Omidyar, creator of eBay, urges young innovators to be passionate about their work, to ignore the critics, and not to take “no” for an answer.
Length: 1:47

Learn from Failure

Innovative endeavors, by their very nature, are risky: No one has made this particular discovery before. What if you fail? Innovators discuss what they have learned from failure and why the freedom to experiment and fail is important.


The Chemist

Microchip pioneer and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore discusses the rise of the engineer-entrepreneur, the importance of taking risks, and what makes America a hotbed for innovation.

The Engineer

Ann Marie Sastry and her company, Sakti, are shaping the future of electric vehicles. The battery inventor and entrepreneur talks about vision, motivation, and facing competition on the road to innovation.


As every chemist knows, mixing two distinctly different elements can result in marvelous (and sometimes combustible) discoveries. Learn how remixing leads innovators to surprising creations.

Be Curious

Everyone agrees curiosity drives innovation. Learn from innovators how to couple curiosity and childlike wonder with confidence and belief that you and your ideas can make a difference.


We're All Makers

Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE magazine, explores the process by which anyone and everyone can come to be an innovator – starting as a ‘user’ and eventually becoming a ‘maker.’

Curiosity & Agricultural Innovations

Urban farming visionary Will Allen goes back to his roots, reflecting on a childhood that sparked his interest in agricultural innovation and discussing a vision that could change the way food is produced nationwide.

Watch: Accessing Curiosity

Mitchell Baker, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, talks about creating an environment where people are comfortable enough to access their curiosity and inner drive.
Length: 2:37

Modern Innovators


Will Allen

CEO of Growing Power, supporting people by providing access to healthy, high-quality, safe, and affordable food.

Mario Andretti

If there's one name synonymous with racing in the United States, it's "Mario Andretti." He's the only driver to have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, and the Formula One World Championship.

Ken Block

Ken Block competed in rally racing and redefined motorsport with his tire-shredding Gymkhana videos.

Don Chadwick

Chadwick is an award-winning industrial designer who, along with Bill Stumpf, designed the Aeron Chair.

Herbert Deutsch

Herbert Deutsch recounts his life in music—including the genesis and collaborative process behind creating the first Moog synthesizer with Bob Moog.

Jim Dilamarter

Mechanic Jim Dilamarter started working with Parnelli Jones in 1969 and never stopped. He served as crew chief for Jones’s back-to-back Indy 500 wins, as a team owner, in 1970 and 1971.

A.J. Foyt

A.J. Foyt made a record 35 consecutive starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 1958 to 1992 and was the first driver to win it four times.

Bill Gates

Computer geeks everywhere can look to Bill Gates as a role model. The phenomenal success of Microsoft, the company he founded, help to turn the software engineer into a new kind of cultural hero.

Dan Gurney

Dan Gurney discovered auto racing as a teenager in southern California and he never looked back.

Jim Hall

Hall was one of the first to properly utilize vertical aerodynamic downforce on racecars.

Parnelli Jones

Whether at Indiana’s famous Brickyard, Colorado’s daunting Pikes Peak, or Mexico’s rugged Baja California Peninsula, Parnelli Jones never shied away from a racing challenge as a driver or a team owner.

Dean Kamen

Discover how this prolific inventor creates with his own unique palette of mathematics and machines.

William McDonough

McDonough is best known as a pioneer in the green design movement, creating building, designs, and strategies that are "environmentally intelligent."

Bob Metcalfe

In the early days of Silicon Valley, Bob Metcalfe developed Ethernet, the standard for networking as we know it today.

Toshiko Mori

Mori is an architect and educator, who is renowned for her research-based approach to design and architecture.

Elon Musk

From his early days teaching himself to program computers, Elon Musk has worked to improve the quality of life for everyone through technology.

Pierre Omidyar

The work of Omidyar was one of the driving forces behind the rise of the Internet as a consumer, community, and cultural destination.

Stan Ovshinsky

Ovshinsky, together with his wife, Iris, developed an array of energy and information-related inventions that have advanced technologies and industries.

Carroll Shelby

In 1962, Shelby designed the Cobra sports car and went on to become one the premier high-performance automobile designers.

Paul Stankard

Paul Stankard envisioned a new role for the glass paperweight--he elevated it to fine art. Through his mastery of glass, Paul captures his personal interpretation of nature inside innovative shapes and forms.

Lyn St. James

Lyn St. James helped a new generation of women break into the traditionally male-dominated sport of auto racing.

Alfred Taubman

Taubman developed some of the most successful malls in the United States and influenced succeeding generations of architects, retailers, and planners.

Al Unser, Jr.

Al Unser, Jr., earned Can-Am, IROC and Indy car championships, adding to his family’s unparalleled racing legacy.

Bobby Unser

Bobby Unser takes us inside the automobile racing world to understand firsthand how innovation happened.

Alice Waters

Waters founded and owns Chez Panisse Restaurant, the flagship of “California cuisine,” and created the Edible Schoolyard.

Ed Welburn

Welburn fostered creativity and innovation while leading General Motors' global design centers.

Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman's leadership has impacted some of the largest companies in the technology industry—from eBay during its startup days to iconic businesses like Hewlett Packard.

Wood Brothers

Wood Brothers Racing made the fastest pit stops in NASCAR – so fast that Ford hired them to crew Jim Clark’s Lotus-Ford at the 1965 Indy 500.

Steve Wozniak

Wozniak's inventions and machines are credited with contributing greatly to the personal computer revolution of the 1970s.

Historic Innovators

Historic Visionaries

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is one of the most prolific inventors who ever lived. His breakthroughs have had a profound effect on virtually every aspect of daily life.
Historic Visionaries

Henry Ford

Henry Ford's innovations, such as the Model T and the development of the modern assembly line, revolutionized the way the world travels.

Areas of Innovation


Agriculture & the Environment

Natural spaces and agricultural landscapes represent two extremes of the human experience. Human survival depends on careful management of vegetable, animal and mineral resources that make the production of food, fuel, and fiber possible. Innovators help us understand the role we all play in sustaining the environments on which we all depend.

Design & Making

Every human-made object has been designed—from cars to buildings, airplanes to shopping malls. Hear from a wide variety of entrepreneurs and innovators how they have applied design thinking to their industry and the products they produce.

Energy & Power

From the very beginnings of our electrical infrastructure through the multiple types of power in use today and on towards the future of renewable energy and energy storage, visionaries talk about how advances in power production allow innovation to happen in many fields.

Information & Communications

Technology that seems commonplace to one generation is often completely unimagined by the generation that came before. Leaders in technology discuss everything from the rise of the personal computer, Internet, and software industry to how our increasingly connected world is changing and disrupting specific industries.

Society & Social Transformation

Human culture is not static—our society changes over time, and these changes are driven by people and their ideas. Hear firsthand how agents of change have created both modest and highly significant transformations to the way we live.


Whether you’re traveling down the block to the store or have your sights set on travel to the stars, there can be multiple ways to get where you’re going. Leaders in the field explain how we have advanced from the very beginnings of air travel to space travel, and from the first automobiles to today’s high-performance racecars.