Category Archives: Patents

A Brief Visual History of American Innovations

    In a series of papers studying the history of American innovation, Packalen and Bhattacharya indexed every one-word, two-word, and three-word phrase that appeared in more than 4 million patent texts in the last 175 years. To focus their … Continue reading

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Edison’s First Movie Projector: A Phonograph for Pictures

Today in 1888, Thomas Edison filed a patent for the first movie projector, the “Optical Phonograph,” which projected images just 1/32-inch across.  Steven Lubar in InfoCulture: “Thomas Edison was thinking about the phonograph when he decided to invent a moving picture machine. … Continue reading

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First Patent Application for a Rotary Dial Telephone

Today in 1923, Antoine Barnay filed the first patent application for a rotary dial telephone in France. From The Aesthetic: The old phones have an aesthetic that new phones sorely lack. They ring, for one thing, with real bells. All that … Continue reading

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The Dvorak Keyboard: Network Effect or Market Efficiency?

Today in 1936, U.S. patent No. 2,040,248 was issued to August Dvorak and William Dealey for their keyboard layout design, later to be commonly known as the Dvorak keyboard.  Wikipedia: “A discussion of the Dvorak layout is sometimes used as an … Continue reading

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First Integrated Circuit Patent Application

Today in 1959, Jack Kilby filed a patent application for the Integrated Circuit, titled: “Method of making miniaturized electronic circuit.” Harold Evans in They Made America: “The University of Illinois gave him only average grades in electrical engineering, a disappointment … Continue reading

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First U.S. “Calculating Machine”

Today in 1850, the first US patent (US No. 7,074) for a push-key operated adding machine is issued to Dubois D. Parmelee of New Paltz, New York. The first commercially successful calculator will be invented forty years later by William Burroughs.

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Patent for Multiple Telephone Switchboards Granted

Today in 1882,  U.S. Patent No. 252, 576  for a “a new system for multiple [telephone] switchboards” was granted to Leroy B. Firman. For more on telephone switchboards, see here and here and here.

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Patent Wars

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50 Years of Memory Management

50 years ago today, one of the first software patent applications is filed by the British Petroleum Company. It proposes to “solve automatically a linear programming problem by means of an iterative algorithm whereby it (a) transfers data representations from the … Continue reading

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First US Photography Patent

Today in 1840, to Alexander S. Wolcott received the first U.S. patent (No. 1,582) for a photographic invention for his “method of taking a likeness by means of a concave reflector and plates so prepared that luminous or other rays will act thereon.” A … Continue reading

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