Innovating with the Crowd


Historians suggest crowdsourcing dates as far back as 1714 when the British government offered £20,000 to solve “The Longitude Problem,” which made sailing dangerous and caused thousands of seamen to perish annually. John Harrison, a carpenter’s son, invented the “marine chronometer,” a highly accurate timepiece that could measure longitude at sea and serve as a navigation aid. Although the aristocrats were reticent to award the prize to a commoner, they gave in, and Harrison ultimately received his prize money. Robin W. Spencer explored “The Longitude Problem” in detail in an RTM article published in 2012.