Harry Houdini PatentHarry Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary, to a Jewish family. Houdini began his career as a trapeze artist and was later renowned as a magician and an escape artist. He astonished audiences by escaping from handcuffs, straitjackets, and prison cells.

Houdini also held a patent for a style of diving suit. The innovation was granted U.S. Patent Number 1,370,316 on March 1, 1921. The object of Houdini’s diving suit was to allow a diver to get out of the suit while submerged. This helped the diver swiftly and safely escape and reach the surface of the water. It also allowed a diver to don his suit without assistance. This was accomplished by being formed in two halves, with a locking joint in the middle. The diver could reach this joint and release it, and then escape from the suit. Continue reading “Making History: Harry Houdini Patents a Diving Suit”

Neon PatentIn 1915, a U.S. Patent No. 1,125,476 was issued to George Claude of Paris for a “System of Illuminating by Luminescent Tubes.” This patent was the basis for the neon sign. Claude, an engineer, chemist and inventor was the first person to create a lamp by applying an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon. By mixing other gases with the neon, Claude was able to produce the light in many different colors. He, also, discovered that the tubes holding the gas mixture could be bent and twisted. This allowed him to produce the letters and shapes that are the signature of a neon sign.

Claude first displayed this invention that revolutionized sign making at the1910 Paris Expo. In 1923, under the company Claude’s Neon, he introduced neon signs to the United States. Continue reading “The Invention of the Neon Sign: Changing the American Landscape”

Bar Code PatentOn October 7, 1952 Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland received US Patent 2,612,994 for “Classifying Apparatus and Method.”

In 1948, Bernard Silver, then a graduate student at Drexel University, overheard a conversation that would eventually lead to the development of the bar code. The president of a local food chain was looking for a system that would automatically read information during the check out process. Silver told another graduate student, Norman Joseph Woodland about the conversation and they began working on solutions.

Their first working system used patterns of ink that glowed under ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet ink had problems with stability and was extremely expensive to print. Still, Woodland was convinced that he had a workable idea. In order to have more time to work on the project, he quit Drexel, sold some stock and moved in with his grandfather in Florida. Continue reading “Invention of the Bar Code Patented: Saving You Time at Checkout”

adhesive patentSometimes an inventor will make a best selling product completely be accident. The Post It Note is an example of that. In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver invented a repositionable adhesive that was strong enough to stick to surfaces but did not leave any residue. Silver had not set out to produce such a glue. He was actually trying to make a very strong adhesive. Patent Number #3691140 for Acrylate Copolymer Microspheres, the adhesive used on Post It Notes was granted to Spencer Ferguson Silver on March 9, 1970. But 3M never utilized this adhesive. Continue reading “Invention of Post It Notes – An Accidental Discovery With a Sticky Past”

philo farnsworthPhilo Taylor Farnsworth was an American inventor born August 19, 1906. He was best known for inventing the first fully electronic television system, including the first working electronic image pickup device (video camera tube), and for being the first to demonstrate fully electronic television to the public.

Farnsworth’s aptitude with electricity was evident at an early age. His parents had expected him to be a concert violinist. Instead his interests led him to experiments with electricity. He built an electric motor and produced the first electric washing machine his family had ever owned  at the age of 12. Continue reading “Entertainment at Its Finest – Who Invented the Television?”

Lincoln PatentAbraham Lincoln received patent #6469 on May 22, 1849 for a device to lift boats over shoals. His device was never manufactured but he did become the only president to hold a patent.

Lincoln had considerable experience as a boatman. Once while taking a boatload of merchandise down the Mississippi River, his boat slid into a dam. Traveling the Great Lakes on another trip, his boat ran afoul of a sandbar. Lincoln noticed that the efforts to free the boat were similar on both occasions. Lincoln began working on an invention to solve this problem between sessions of Congress in 1848. His solution was a set of bellows attached to the boat just below the water line. When the boat came upon shallow water, the bellows were filled with air that moved the vessel and made it float higher. Continue reading “Presidential Patents – Lincoln’s Invention for Lifting Boats”

The first patent was issued on July 31, 1790 but Patent #1 was not issued until July 13, 1836. Prior to July 4, 1836, patents were assigned only by name of patentee and the date of the patent. The Patent Act passed on July 4, 1836 provided a numbering system for issued patents. The name and date patent issued before were then renumbered chronologically with the addition of an X after the number. The first patent ever issued is now 1X.

Senator John Ruggles of Maine who initiated the Patent Act also holds Patent #1. Issued July 13, 1836 this patent is for a traction wheel used in locomotive steam engines. The invention was meant to help locomotives in climbing steep grades. Continue reading “Making History: Who Received Patent #1?”