Here we are, not quite two weeks from the end of this year’s Steam Summer Sale.

Here we are, not quite two weeks from the end of this year’s Steam Summer Sale. We were all ambushed by a veritable cornucopia of bargains, many of which were simply too good to pass up. At this point, I expect a lot of us are quietly dreading our next credit card statement. Well, believe or not, the hardware market seems to be giving us—the over-indebted Steam addicts—a break this summer. Graphics card prices have fallen sharply over the past little while, and they’re now lower than ever. The price tags on some cards have dropped by the equivalent of a full performance tier, or close to it. The getting is unquestionably good. Then there are Intel’s Devil’s Canyon and Pentium Anniversary Edition processors, the latter of which is perhaps the best CPU value we’ve seen in years. Picture this: a $75 dual-core processor that’s fully unlocked and can overclock by up to 50% on air, at which point it can nip at the heels of $200 quad-core chips. Talk about a return on investment. On top of that, some new, value-friendly solid-state drives have joined the party. Crucial’s MX100 offers an almost unbeatable combination of value and performance at 256GB and 512GB, ideal capacities for a ga...

“My so-called inventions already existed in the environment,” Edison once said. “I’ve created nothing. Nobody does.”

“My so-called inventions already existed in the environment,” Edison once said. “I’ve created nothing. Nobody does.” There were ideas long before there were light bulbs. But, of all the ideas that have ever turned into inventions, only the light bulb became a symbol of ideas. Earlier innovations had literalized the experience of “seeing the light,” but no one went around talking about torchlight moments or sketching candles into cartoon thought bubbles. What made the light bulb such an irresistible image for ideas was not just the invention but its inventor. Thomas Edison was already well known by the time he perfected the long-burning incandescent light bulb, but he was photographed next to one of them so often that the public came to associate the bulbs with invention itself. That made sense, by a kind of transitive property of ingenuity: during his lifetime, Edison patented a record-setting one thousand and ninety-three different inventions. On a single day in 1888, he wrote down a hundred and twelve ideas; averaged across his adult life, he patented something roughly every eleven days. There was the light bulb and the phonograph, of course, but also the kinetoscope, the dict...