A Survey of Pioneer Inventions In America (1992)

In these times of high unemployment and trade imbalance, it is natural to wonder about the nature and causes of wealth in our nation. Historical analysis of our nation shows that pioneer inventions were directly responsible for advancing technological capabilities at home, in commerce and through industry. In most instances, advancements in technological capability have made it possible to transform the imaginable into reality.

Individual inventors who made pioneer inventions played a very important role during the technological development of our nation, and naturally, some because famous and acquired great fortunes. However, the fame and fortune befallen to pioneering inventors is dwarfed by the enormous benefit their pioneer inventions have provided to our nation.

In general, pioneer inventions have abridged labor, increased work productivity and improved the overall quality of life for many, while fueling the engine of our economy. When transformed into technological innovations, pioneer inventions provided the People of our nation enormous opportunities to employ their diverse skills and industry, and earn an honest living, while maintaining their dignity, independence and freedom. In many instances, technological innovations created new avenues of valuable human endeavor, setting the whole country in active motion.

Today, pioneer inventions are widely viewed as having great potential for shaping and developing the economy of our nation. In large part, this viewpoint is based on the understanding that the source of all wealth stems from ideas in production. The significant of this is that, individual inventors, scientists, artists and others who exercise their creative potential provide our nation's greatest resource for wealth creation and national prosperity.

To remind us of the enormous benefit pioneer inventions have provided our nation, the original words and drawings from a collection of US Patents issued on a large number of pioneer inventions are compiled in Claims to Fame and Fortune. Though in no way exhaustive, this collection of pioneer patents is intended to provide a "survey" of pioneer inventions in America, upon which a large number of industries have been founded.  It is hoped that over time this survey will be expanded to include other pioneer inventions not represented in this book, and future ones as they are developed.

As you will see, the original drawings on the following pages have been taken from the "Specification" portions of these pioneer patents, while the original words below the declaration "I claim", "We claim", or "What is claimed is" are the actual words chosen by the pioneering inventors in order to publicly stake our their inventions.  These original words are referred to as the "Claim" portion of a U.S. Letters Patent and tell the public, with definiteness and particularity, what the inventor declares as original to him and new to the useful arts. In return for teaching the public how to practice the claimed invention in the Specification, with the United States Government fulfills its constitutional promise "to promote the useful arts" by issuing a U.S. Letters Patent.  As illustrated on the following pages, the U.S. Patent Grant, which forms part of each U.S. Letters Patent, grants the inventor, or his or her assignee, the right to exclude others from making, using or selling the claimed invention for a limited term of years set by statute.

While the scope of each Claim in a U.S. Letters Patent should be determined with reference to its full Specification, which I have not included here for reason of page limitations, you will find that for many of these pioneer patents, a very good sense of the claimed invention can be obtained by simply reading the Claim in a slow manner, the way one reads poetry .   The reason this is possible because the language used in these Claims constitutes the "legal definition" of these pioneer inventions.  In many cases, this language has been used in the federal courts by the owners of these pioneer patents, the inventors, their lawyers, and the lawyers representing those sued for infringement of these Claims.  Thus, the words and phrases of many of these Claims have been recited over the years by federal judges deciding cases involving these patents.

Perhaps more often though, the words and phrases of many of these Claims have appeared in license agreement granting others permission to practice these pioneer inventions for payment of a royalty. In turn, those promoting, practicing and investing in these pioneer inventions have had the natural occasion to use such words and phrases, causing others to do the same. And so it goes, many of the words used to legally define these pioneer inventions have trickled down in our society and are now part of our native language.While turning the pages of this book you will readily recognize the names of many famous inventors whose pioneer inventions have birth to new industries, changing forever the world in which we live. You may also be moved to consider the fortunes associated with these pioneer inventions. In either case, however, a bigger picture should be kept in mind.

The making of these pioneer inventions, by itself, did not bring about the technological innovations which were founded thereupon.  In most instances, these pioneer inventions were promoted by people who had vision, a deep sense of purpose, an intense desire to succeed, and a clear understanding of what had to be risked in order to achieve their enterprises.  Equipped with these qualities, the inventors and promoters of these pioneer inventions were able to overcome numerous setbacks and obstacles encountered along the way, eventually leaving their imprint on the world.  Rest assure, however, were it not for the incentives that encouraged these persons to fight to be individuals, many of these pioneer inventions may be have ever been created nor transformed into the technological innovations were now know.  The reasons for this are quite clear.

An environment which encourages a person to depart from conventions in search of something better, and does not punish the person for being different, is an environment which inspires individuals to enjoy life to its fullest by discovering their talents, taking chances and exploring all of that life has to offer.  Such an environment is most likely to yield individuals who discover unknown scientific principles, make useful inventions, create great works of art, and realize significant scientific, technological and social innovations.  And, it is individual achievements as these, which, in effect, product wealth and economic prosperity and thus secure the welfare of our society.

Consistent with this principle, the laws of our nation must continue to provide incentives or rewards for entrepreneurs, as well as inventors, who must assume enormous risks when attempting to build new industries.   While the Patent Laws of our nation must create valuable incentives for inventors, properly formulated Tax Laws also help create similar incentives for entrepreneurs.  Without such incentives only a few persons can be expected to incur the enormous financial and personal risks associated with technological innovation.  The historical record of our nation shows that the net result of these incentives has been to encourage the creative spirit of the inventor and venturous spirit of the entrepreneur which, working together, naturally stimulate our economy without government subsidy.

Although I have sketched out my version of a "bigger picture," it is only one version.  Others will have their own.  But regardless of the version you chose when looking through the pages of this book, please remember one simple point.While pioneer inventions provide "fuel" for our economy, only the People of our nation can provide its "engine."

On this 25th anniversary of CFF's original publication, our nation's trade imbalance and unemployment has reached unprecedented levels. Millions of people are wondering about how new jobs will be created for the millions of Americans who can't find one. Thus, it makes great sense to support and encourage those countless individuals laboring to develop new and useful inventions, and products and services based on such inventions.  By doing so, we increase the likelihood that such inventions may someday soon provide new fuel for the "engine" of our economy.

Learn more about the importance of pioneer inventions by reviewing Claims to Fame and Fortune (CFF), and download a free pdf copy for your library today.

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