From Immigrant to Inventor

April 8, 2021
From Immigrant to Inventor

As I sat on the deck of the ship which was taking me to theuniversities of Europe, and watched its eagerness to get away fromthe busy harbor of New York, I thought of the day when, nine yearsbefore, I had arrived on the immigrant ship.I said to myself: "Michael Pupin, the most valuable asset whichyou carried into New York harbor nine years ago was your knowledgeof, and profound respect and admiration for, the best traditions ofyour race...the most valuable assets which you are now taking withyou from New York harbor is your knowledge of, and profound respectand admiration for, the best traditions of your adoptedcountry."Michael Pupin's was a genuinely American story, the lifelongjourney of a boy from rural Serbia, from a town so tiny it appearedon no maps, who became one of the greatest scientists of the early20th century, changing the lives of people the world over with histechnological innovations-he invented the therapeutic X-ray andmade telephone communications practical and inexpensive-and helpingto invent the modern world we know today.First published in 1922, Pupin's autobiography won the PulitzerPrize in 1924, but Pupin's insightful and incisive words are theirown greatest recommendation.