The invention has the code name “Ginger,” and was developed by 49 year-old scientist Dean Kamen, who says that Ginger will change the world.

Kamen is an eccentric inventor who commutes to work by helicopter. He?s out of touch with popular culture, and once sat next to Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty at a White House dinner, and didn?t know who either of them were. He invented an off-road wheelchair called the iBot, that can climb stairs and move freely on sand and gravel, as well as rise up on two wheels.

Harvard Business School press has just paid journalist Steve Kemper a large advance for a book about this invention, even though they don?t yet know what it is about.

Ginger has attracted interest and investment money from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Steve Jobs, one of the original inventors of the home computer, made this cryptic comment about her: “If enough people see the machine, you won?t have to convince them to [build] cities around it. It?ll just happen.”

The author of the upcoming book, Steve Kemper, calls Kamen a combination of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. He says Ginger “will sweep over the world and change lives, cities and ways of thinking.”

Computer technologist Jeff Bezos says that Ginger is “a product so revolutionary, you?ll have no problem selling it. The question is, are people going to be allowed to use it?”

It sounds like some kind of incredible new energy or transportation device. Here?s what we do know about it:

Ginger is not a piece of medical technology, so it?s not a cure for cancer.

In a private meetings with Steve Jobs and other computer mavens, the inventor assembled two Gingers in 10 minutes, using only a screwdriver, some cardboard boxes, and parts that fit into a couple of duffel bags.

Ginger has a sense of humor, because when she was turned on, she made everyone laugh.

There may be two models of Ginger and the cheaper one may cost less than $2,000.

Ginger will profoundly affect the environment in a positive way. She will change the way people live, especially in cities.

She will be widely marketed to consumers. Cities and businesses will have to be retrofitted in order to adapt to her.

Ginger won?t be revealed until 2002. No one has seen her except for the inventor, the author who is writing about her and the people who have invested in her.

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