The Tale of the Scale: An Odyssey of Invention

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In the mid-1980s, the author had a technological mini-vision. He saw in his mind's eye a quarter-inch thick personal scale weighing a pound, a travel scale, and he decided to make it a reality, to bring it to market. This book gives a first-person account of the process of invention and design as it unfolds in the remaking of the familiar bathroom scale. It is rare because inventors seldom have the inclination to articulate their thought processes and to recount their experiences in great detail. Angel, an urban planner by profession, had no mechanical skills as he embarked on his journey. This book records his transformation, over the course of a decade, from a bungling ignoramus to an expert on thin scales. Readers know as much about scales, or about invention for that matter, as Angel does at the beginning of the journey. Listening to Angel's unfolding story, this book shows the intricacies of invention and design. The pursuit of the thin scale travels to fascinating places, from Bangkok to Rolling Hills, California, from Groningen in the Netherlands to Murrhardt in Germany, and from New York to Tokyo. But the places Angel explores are not only visually different. They are realms of knowledge inhabited by people with diverse yet complementary outlooks on the invention process, such as engineers, designers, lawyers, product development specialists, corporate functionaries, and friends who philosophize on the deeper meanings of one's life pursuits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages312
ISBN (Electronic)9780199849826
ISBN (Print)9780195158687
StatePublished - Oct 3 2011


  • Design
  • Invention
  • Scales
  • Solly angel
  • Thin scales
  • Travel scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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