A century ago, my father and his Minnesota peers were making the switch from using horses to farm their land to new-fangled contraptions called tractors. Many of these Minnesota natives rarely left the state to travel, their lifestyle centered on dutiful labor that required long hours and attention and left little time for leisure.
My father could count on one hand the number of times he boarded a plane in his life and buying his first television was a major milestone—even though that TV could only bring in two channels. Watching the Minnesota State Basketball tourney in Southwest Minnesota was like trying to make out the car in front of you during a full-fledged blizzard.
Today, many Minnesotans who have a heritage like this are using computers that fit into their hand that are far more powerful than early military computers. Today’s generation thinks nothing of flying overseas for a summer vacation or driving a thousand miles to camp in the mountains. Three-year-old children can pick up a smartphone and find their favorite movies faster than their grandparents could crack a walnut.
This INNOVATE® Minnesota edition celebrates a splendid current generation of thought leaders and companies that are developing cutting-edge ideas and products. Many of the companies featured in this book are responsible for products and services we use every day. Sometimes they are prominent in the marketplace but other times they are the unsung heroes operating in the background to help other companies communicate and run smoothly or more profitably.
Those who know the history of technology in Minnesota know that we have a story that needs to be told each generation. While Silicon Valley might grab headlines, it is Minnesota who can lay claim to being the first center of technology. Technology in Minnesota has strong roots in developments for the military that turned out to be a major springboard for what is happening today.
It has been a privilege to talk with folks from over 100 growing companies represented in this book. We are in good hands with these innovators who are making our lives easier and in most cases, just a whole lot more fun.