Celebrating Patent 10,000,000 (…and 9,000,000…and 8,000,000…and)
Patent 10,000,000 is here! There was much speculation that it would issue to a woman, or a woman-owned company, or at least a woman patent examiner. It did not. It belongs to Joseph Marron, of Raytheon, who invented the Coherent LADAR Using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection. In plain English, this is a way of capturing and interpreting digital information. You can see the front page of the patent here, along with its beautiful new red cover:
Patents tell us what is important to our economy. What do people most want to change about their world? Here is a snapshot history of American innovation, seen in terms of what we patent. The numbers may be long, but, I promise you, this article is short.
To see truly how far we’ve come, look at patents 1 (Traction Wheels) 1 million (Vehicle Tires) and 2 million (Vehicle Wheel Construction. What drove our economy then? Agriculture and transportation! Every one was looking for a better, faster and cheaper way to grow food and move it across the country.
Patent 3,000,000 issued in 1961 for an Automatic Reading System. This machine converts human-made characters like letter and numbers into machine-readable language. This actually is a very early computer.
Patent 4,000,000 issued 15 years later, in 1976, for a Process for Recycling Asphalt Compositions. Patent 5,000,000 came out 15 years later, in 1991. In 1976, America woke up to the fact that 100 plus years of industrialization was taking its toll on the planet. We could do our part by recycling our waste and harnessing the power of bacteria to create alternate fuels.
Agriculture and transportation continue to develop, and remain relevant in the 1990’s and 2000’s. People will always need food and always need food and ways to get it. However, information technology and medicine are now what runs our lives. How can we find out more, more accurately, more compactly and how can we find it faster? The inventions get smaller and smaller, because our world gets smaller and smaller. Here is U.S. Patent 6,000,000, an Extendible Method and Apparatus for Synchronizing Multiple Files on Different Computers. In other words, how can your PC talk to your smart phone? Patent 7,000,000 (2011) teaches us we can manipulate bacteria (again!) to make textile fibers.
It only takes 4 more years to reach patent 8,000,000. Compare that to 75 years between 1 and 1,000,000. In 2015, we see for the first time artificial vision. Computers communicate with and interpret visual information for a prosthetic retina. There is now hope for the blind.
As small as our world gets, we still need to take care of it. Patent 9,000,000 shows us how we can repurpose rainwater and dew to wash our windshields.
At this rate, we will see Patent 11,000,000 2 years from now. What will it be? What will you create?