(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Steve Wozniak

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”*…

From the Wright Brothers’ patent filings (source)

… It’s illuminating to point out that all three transformative technologies of the twentieth century – aviation, the automobile, and the digital computer – started off in patent battles and required a voluntary suspension of hostilities (a collective decision to ignore patents) before the technology could truly take hold.

The Wright brothers won every patent case they fought, and it did them absolutely no good. The prospect of a fortune wasn’t what motivated them to build an airplane, but ironically enough they could have made a fortune had they just passed on the litigation. In 1905, the Wrights were five years ahead of any potential competitor, and posessed a priceless body of practical knowledge. Their trade secrets and accumulated experience alone would have made them the leaders in the field, especially if they had teamed up with Curtiss. Instead, they got to watch heavily government-subsidized programs in Europe take the technical lead in airplane design as American aviation stagnated.

If you are someone who believes that the Internet and computer software are a transformative technology on a par with aviation, you may find it interesting to note that there is now a patent cease-fire in effect in the world of software, the occasional high-profile infringement case notwithstanding. The reason for the cease-fire is simple: if companies like IBM, Xerox, and Sun were to begin fully enforcing their patent portfolios, it would mean an apocalypse of litigation for all software developers. Everyone understands that the health and growth of the Internet are contingent on ignoring the patent system as much as possible.

At the same time, more patents are being granted than ever before, for broader claims, and with an almost complete disregard for prior art. Entire companies – and not just legal firms – are basing business models on extracting money from the patent system without actually creating any products. And the boundaries of patent law are expanding. For the first time in history, it’s possible to patent pure mathematical ideas (in the form of software patents), or even biological entities. The SARS virus was patented shortly after being isolated for the first time.

But if the patent system doesn’t even work for the archetypal example – two inventors, working alone, who singlehandedly invent a major new technology – why do we keep it at all? Who really benefits, and who pays?…

Learning from (the unhappy experiences of) the Wright Brothers– Maciej Cegłowski explains why the U.S. patent system is counter-productive: “100 Years of Turbulence.” Eminently worthy of reading in full.

See also, Bruce Perens: “Software Patents vs. Free Software.”

* Bill Gates, Challenges and Strategy Memo, Microsoft, May 16, 1991

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As we apply our intellects to intellectual property, we might recall that it was on this date in 1976 that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne signed a partnership agreement that established the company that would become Apple Computer, Inc.– a company all about the IP– on January 3, 1977.

Wayne left the partnership eleven days later, relinquishing his ten percent share for $2,300.

Apple in Steve Job’s parents’ home on Crist Drive in Los Altos, California. Although it is widely believed that the company was founded in the house’s garage, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak called it “a bit of a myth”. Jobs and Wozniak did, however, move some operations to the garage when the bedroom became too crowded.

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Pick Up Sticks…

Tim Fort has a fascination with kinetic art…

To the uninitiated, my kinetic gadgets are gnarly chain-reaction devices that collapse and explode in, like, really cool ways; to the discerning aesthete, they’re mechanically-iterative, entropy-generating entities designed to confront the observer’s pre-conceived notions about Newtonian physics and challenge their paradigms for processing reductivistic-mechanistic Weltanschauungen  from a post-modernistic perspective. (Well, not really…)

Much more than mere domino tumbling, my kinetic gadgets use a wide variety of chain-reaction techniques of my own invention and they have Dalíesque names like Experimental Polymodal Slack-Generating Apparatus #9 and Test Detonation of 0.2 Kilostick Boosted-Yield Xyloexplosive Device #1. Not only can my gadgets collapse and explode in many ways, but they can play music tunes and have animation in them.

The video above– 2250 colored tongue depressors woven together, then “detonated”– is Tim’s largest and most recent; see his others here.

Many thanks to reader CE for the tip.

As we marvel that all is in motion, we might remark that the Homebrew Computer Club held its first meeting in Gordon French’s garage in Menlo Park on this date in 1975.  The HCC was a forum devoted to making computers more accessible to folks-at-large, and included members like Bob Marsh, George Morrow, Adam Osborne, Lee Felsenstein, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak. and John “Captain Crunch” Draper– many of whom went on to found (and/or profoundly to influence) personal computer companies.

The first issue of its newsletter was published ten days later, and ran for 21 issues, through 1977.  It was hugely influential in the developing culture of Silicon Valley (e.g., it debuted the concept of the “personal computer”)– and in establishing the battle lines in the industry then still nascent: it published Bill Gates’s Open Letter to Hobbyists, which excoriated enthusiasts of the time for “pirating” commercial software programs, and set the tone for what would become Microsoft’s IP posture.

click image above to enlarge, or here

UPDATE: Further to yesterday’s “The Challenges of Social Media, Part 69…,” from reader KL (a link to reader MKM’s program): “Facebook faux pas for Israeli soldier.”

Goes down smoooooth…

source: inverntorspot.com

Japanese cheese company NEEDS has developed a new line of thirst quenchers, a cheese drink that comes in three flavors: plain, blueberry, and yuzu citrus. Samplers report that it has a taste similar to yogurt, but with a cheesy aftertaste.

An official of NEEDS explains,

We want consumers to be more familiar with cheese, so we’ve made a liquid version that makes it more accessible. It’s also good as a salad dressing.

Find other “alternative” soft drinks here…  as for salad dressing, it’s NEEDS or you’re on your own.

As we scrub out our water bottles (and lest we too quickly dismiss eccentric-seeming new product ideas), we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that “the Steves” (Jobs and Wozniak) offered the first real (that’s to say, commercially-produced, commercially-available) personal computer, the Apple II, for sale.  (Note that some sources place the date a day or two later; Jobs isn’t talking, and Woz can’t remember…)

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
– Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
(more such predictions, here)

source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

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