By Walter Isaacson
January 3, 2019
IDEAS
Isaacson is a professor of history at Tulane University and a best-selling biographer; his most recent book is Leonardo da Vinci.

For the past 50 years, the rational exuberance of the American economy has been propelled by the combination of three innovations: the computer, the microchip and the Internet. The research and development that produced each came from a triangular alliance of government, academia and private business.

This tripartite machine of government working with universities and private corporations was not merely a random array with each group pursuing its own aims. Instead, during and after World War II, the three groups had been purposely fused into an innovation triangle.

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This appears in the January 14, 2019 issue of TIME.

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