Great article on Maker Culture from Re/Creating Tampa, where they contrast 21st Century maker activities with historical events in the United States. They explain how inventions were largely the domain of the individual (think Benjamin Franklin, Eli Whitney, etc.) These renowned "individual gadgeteers" made a truly significant difference in the history of the United States and other nations through their genius.
Strangely, in the mid 20th Century the world shifted to assembly lines and centralized manufacturing. The inventive individual became an oddity.
An oddity until today, when we find individual genius on the rise again, this time powered by high-tech personal manufacturing equipment and software.