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Fuller Biographical Info
Buckminster Fuller author, scientist, artist, inventor,
architect, engineer, philosopher, mathematician, metaphysician,
cartographer, visionary, social historian, creator of dymaxion
engineering, geodesics, synergy, synergetics, World Game &
world resources inventory, arguably the first modern futurist.
Richard Buckminster Fuller,
born 12 July 1895
in Milton, Massachusetts, United States.
"Over the course of... his lifetime, R.Buckminster Fuller
became perhaps the best known American thinker of the twentieth
century. Sometimes called 'the planet's friendly genius', Bucky
gained renown as an inventor and designer (of the Dymaxion House,
the Dymaxion car, the Dymaxion map), the creator of the Geodesic
Dome, the man who coined the term 'Spaceship Earth' and organized
the World Game, the mathematician who discovered Synergetics,
and as a dogged individualist whose genius has been felt throughout
the world for over half a century
"Buckminster Fuller has been consultant to governmental
and private agencies, and advisor to a wide range of intellectual
and political leaders. The connection of high and low tech can,
in part, be traced to the influence of Buckminster Fuller, an
architect-cum-inventor-cum-engineer who preached a gospel of
technological humanism that resonated with a generation more
familiar with the technological oppression of war.
Fuller claimed that there were quite sufficient resources to
serve all humanity, the only problem lay in their deployment.
As a response to this he developed the concept of Dymaxion,
a contraction of the words 'dynamic', 'maximum' and 'ion' that
to him summarized the need to develop resource-efficient, self-sustaining
technologies. He developed the Dymaxion ideal by inventing a
host of devices, from lightweight homes through streamlined
cars to the geodesic dome that, thanks to Disney's EPCOT theme
park, has since become a symbol of futurism.
"He also produced what he called the World Game. Based
on his Dymaxion Air-Ocean World Map, which was the size of a
basketball court, it entailed trying to distribute world resources
in a way that ensured that everyone would 'win'.
This very whole earth entertainment drew the attention of a
number [of] Californian programmers and philosophers, who managed
to implement a version of it using a computer [see World Game
Institute --ed.], perhaps in the process creating the world's
first world simulator and setting a precedent that was to make
the idea of virtual worlds more accessible -- at least, to California's
(in Virtual Worlds , 1992).
from Massive Change Interviews
/ Stewart Brand
Massive change: What
was Bucky Fuller's reaction to your button campaign that asked,
"Why haven't we seen an image of the whole earth yet?"
Stewart Brand: It was all because of LSD, see. I took some lysergic
acid diethylamide on an otherwise boring afternoon and came
to the notion that seeing an image of the Earth from space would
change a lot of things. So, on next to no budget, I printed
up buttons and posters and sold them on street corners at the
University of California, Berkeley. I went to Stanford and back
east to Columbia, Harvard, and MIT. I also mailed the materials
to various people: Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, senators,
members of the U.S. and Soviet space programs.
Out of everyone, I only heard back from Bucky Fuller, who wrote,
"Dear boy, it's a charming notion but you must realize
you can never see more than half the earth from any particular
point in space." I was amused, and then met him
a few months later at a seminar at Esalen Institute in Big Sur,
California. I sat across from his lunch table and pushed the
button over to him, asking him what he thought about it. He
said, "Oh yes, I wrote to that guy." I said, "I'm
the guy. So what do you think? What kind of difference do you
think it will make when we actually get photographs of the earth
There was this slow, lovely silence. Then he said, "Dear
boy, how can I help you?"
Timeline of Fuller's Developement:
Brother: Wolcott Fuller : Sisters: Leslie and Rosie Fuller. Great-aunt:
Son-in-law: Robert Snyder. First invention: a playpen for Rosie.
1912 -- Became the 5th generation of Fullers to be accepted
1913 -- Harvard University... two or three
1917 -- Married Anne Hewlett on 12 July.
1919 -- First daughter Alexandra born. Died in
1927 -- 2nd daughter Allegra born. Fuller resolves
to do his own thinking.
-- '4-D' prefabricated house.
"Anyway, by 1928 I was back in New York and
I began to hang around in the Village. I used to go to Romany Marie's,
a restaurant I was introduced to by a friend even before I went
to Chicago. It was probably the last of the really great Bohemian
cafés I know of in the world -- very much like the Paris
of the 20s. The Village was loaded then with great artists and great
intellectuals, and Marie had by far the best place in town. That's
where I carried on and developed my ideas. Certainly, in Greenwich
Village they took me and my ideas seriously."
1929 -- 'Dymaxion House',
duralumin and plastic. "He used to drink like a fish. He had
become a God-possessed man, like a Messiah of ideas. He was a prophet
of things to come. Bucky didn't take care of himself, but he had
amazing strength. He often went without sleep for several days,
and he didn't always eat either."
1930 -- Developed a full-size model of the Dymaxion bathroom.
"I sold all my life insurance and took over a magazine called
T-Square . I changed its name to Shelter , and published it for
the next two years."
1933 -- Dymaxion car.
Plaster models made by Noguchi. Sterling Burgess, chief engineer.
1936 -- "I was asked to go into research
at Phelps Dodge,
the third largest copper company in the world."
1946 -- 'Wichita' house [see "Fuller's House"
in Fortune , April 1946].
1948 -- Summer professor at Black Mountain College.
Developed First Dome Prototype
was at Black Mountain that I met John Cage and Merce Cunningham,
who were there, Bill de Kooning and his wife Elaine, Arthur Penn,
the Alberses, of course, Ruth Asawa, Albert Lanier, who later married
Ruth, and Ken Snelson. That group decided they wanted to
put on a play and they wanted me to be in it. And I said, 'I can't
act; I never have. All I can do is talk spontaneously, but I can't
do anything where you have to rehearse'. "And they
said, 'You must try. You're going to be the star of this thing,
The Ruse of Medusa by Erik Satie -- and you're going to be the Medusa'."
1951 -- Allegra Fuller marries Robert Snyder.
1954 -- 'Geodesic Dome' patented.
1956 - 'Dymaxion Map' patented.
As this figure shows, he achieved his objective of creating a map
with the minimum of distortion to the shape of the world’s
major land masses by dividing the globe into triangular areas. (notice
how the north pole is horribly stretched on a 'normal' map?)
Those areas not encompassing major land masses were cut away, allowing
the remainder of the globe to be “unfolded” into a flat
From 1927 to 1954 Buckminster Fuller worked on what would become
the Dymaxion Map. As you may well know the mathematics involved
to turn a sphere into a flat surface are very complex, and the maps
we usually use have a great margin of projection errors. Fuller
was looking for a way to produce a distorsionless map. The method
he used, an unfolded icosahedron, results in nearly no distortion
of either size or shape of the landmasses.
Distinguished University Professor at Southern Illinois
University since 1959.
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University.
The Royal Gold Medal for Architecture.
United States Pavilion at the Montreal World's Fair, Expo '67
The 1968 Gold Medal Award of the National Institute of Arts and
The American Institute of Architects' 1970 Gold Medal.
United States Medal of Freedom 1983.
Newly-discovered third form of carbon (C60)
named Buckminsterfullerine or "Buckyballs"
in his honor
[see Perfect Symmetry by Jim Baggott]
Fuller wrote more than twenty books, held twenty-seven patents
for his inventions and received 47 honorary doctorate degrees plus
Died 1983, at age 88.
[At his wife's bedside immediately after she
Leonardo da Vinci of our time"
- Marshall McLuhan.
Fuller's publications include:
* 4-D Timelock
* Nine Chains to the Moon (1938)
* Untitled Epic Poem on the History of Industrialization (1962)
* Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to his Studies
(1962, ISBN 0-8093-0137-7)
* Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (1969,
ISBN 0525474331) -
Full Text Online at http://bfi.org/?q=node/422
* Your Private Sky (ISBN 3907044886)
* Ideas and Integrities (1969, ASIN 0020926308)
* Utopia or Oblivion: The Prospects for Humanity (1969, ASIN 0713901349)
* Approaching the Benign Environment (1970)
* I Seem to Be a Verb (1970)
* No More Secondhand God and Other Writings
* Intuition (1973, ASIN 0385012446)
* Buckminster Fuller to Children of Earth (1972)
* Earth, Inc. (1973)
* Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking
(1975, ISBN 0-02-541870-X) -
Full Text Online at http://www.rwgrayprojects.com/synergetics/toc/toc.html
* Tetrascroll: Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A Cosmic Fairy
* And It Came to Pass -- Not to Stay (1976, ASIN 0025418106)
* R. Buckminster Fuller on Education (1979, ASIN 0870232762)
* Critical Path (1981, ISBN 0-312-17491-8)
* Synergetics 2: Further Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking
Grunch of Giants (1983, ISBN 0-312-35194-1)
Full Text Online at http://bfi.org/?q=node/407
There exists a realizable, evolutionary alternative
to our being either atom-bombed into extinction
or crowding ourselves off the planet.
The alternative is the computer-persuadable veering of big business
from its weaponry fixation to accommodation of all humanity
at an aerospace level of technology,
with the vastly larger, far more enduringly profitable for all,
entirely new World Livingry Service Industry ... (continue)
* Inventions the Patented Works of R. Buckminster Fuller (1983)
* Cosmography (1992, posthumous)
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