Gold, Rich 1950–2003

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Gold, Rich 1950–2003

(Richard J. Goldstein)


Original name Richard J. Goldstein; born June 24, 1950; died January 9, 2003, in Menlo Park, CA; son of Herbert and Phyllis Goldstein; married Marina LaPalma; children: Henry Chase Goldstein. Education: State University of New York, Albany, B.A.; Mills College, M.F.A.


Engineer, artist, writer, designer, composer, lecturer, researcher. Worked for Sega, Mattel, and Xerox PARC.


The Plenitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.


The Plenitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff is a posthumous publication by Rich Gold. Born Richard J. Goldstein on June 24, 1950, Gold spent his career in a collection of different occupations. Gold was an engineer, scientist, inventor, designer, artist, cartoonist, lecturer, and writer. His career and innovative ideas led him to affiliations with such well-known entities as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sega, Mattel, and Xerox PARC. Though he lectured and discussed his ideas on consumer-based economy, he did not formally publish these ideas during his life.

After his death at the age of fifty-two, the Goldstein family collected his notes, speeches, and journal entries and published The Plenitude. This short book focuses on Gold's observations of the American consumer-based economy and the perpetual roles of innovation within this system. According to Gold, necessity and innovation spark invention; those inventions, in turn, spark necessity and innovation; they, in turn, spark invention. Each invention, each creative idea, each innovative concept leads to more stuff—and that stuff drives the American economy.

"The Plenitude" is a term Gold coined for this cycle of creativity and invention. Plenitude is "the limitless stuff produced to feed our consumer-focused economy," stated a reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly. One example Gold offers is television. When television was invented in the 1930s, it was a box that received a picture from only one station. As technology advanced and more stations were offered to satisfy the consumer, it became inconvenient to get up and change the channels manually. Thus, the remote control was invented as another byproduct of the cycle.

Gold's work focuses on the economy, invention, and science, yet it "reads more like his private notebook than a business guide," according to the Publishers Weekly critic. The book features an abundance of Gold's illustrations and cartoons offering visual explanations of Gold's musings. The book also includes commentary connecting such seemingly different subjects as baseball and consumerism.

The question of whether there is simply too much stuff generated by a consumer-based economy was mentioned by a contributor to Science News. The contributor noted that "the morality of creating and acquiring more stuff" is examined by Gold through his "seven basic patterns of innovation." These seven patterns are the most common driving forces of invention, necessity being the first of the seven. Though Gold does admit that some of what consumers purchase is unnecessary and unattractive, he still praises invention and how the "Plenitude" has helped society.



I.D., January 1, 2008, review of The Plenitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff, p. 123.

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007, review of The Plenitude, p. 47.

Science News, September 29, 2007, review of The Plenitude, p. 207.


MIT Press Web site, (April 8, 2008), brief author profile.



Rich Gold Home Page, (April 8, 2008).