Classic Covers: Children of Invention

You may recall Rutherford B. Hayes’ comment after making the first ever presidential phone call on Alexander Graham Bell’s new telephone. “An amazing invention,” he said, “but who would ever want to use one?”

Our cover artists, quite inventive in their own right, have been chronicling America’s quirky new devices for decades. In observing our reactions to them, they have shown we are all pretty much like kids with new toys (with the exception of Rutherford B. Hayes, that is). It’s the kids, however, who take to the “new” at lightning speed, be it telephones, computers, or e-books. They garner new technologies for their own use, leaving their clueless elders far behind. And kids are inventive, too. But look out when they start thinking they are Henry Ford, the Wright brothers, or Alfred Nobel (inventor of dynamite). Kids in inventor mode, our artists suggest, can sometimes be unsettling.

Contributing writer: Joan SerVaas.