"Flash of Genius" movie


I'm seeing previews for the movie about the invention of intermittent wipers
in '63. Think how things have changed in 45 years. Today, a manager at a
design firm would tell a group of engineers to design such a system and have
several designs on his desk by the end of the day. True, they didn't have
555s in '63. So, is it that a unique idea is a lot more important than the
actual design?
If you remember some of my previous posts about nurturing ideas that lead to
designs, this has been an area of extreme interest to me. In the movie, it
looks like Ford screws the idea/design guy, which makes me sick. Designers
and model builders need more respect but idea guys need to be revered!
(coming from a guy that has had very, very few, if any, original ideas)
Reply to
Tom Gardner
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It must have been at least a decade or longer ago that I read about this gent winning his case in the Detroit Free Press. Guy was tenacious.
Wes
Reply to
Wes
Tom: Any good (product) idea takes a commitment of time, smarts and money to bring it to market and then do the right things that make it successful (profitable). Those people with the balls to risk their own personal funds, stay up late nights overcoming problems and plain just won't take no for an answer are the ones that make it. There are also a lot of people who did all the right things, built great products and still failed. In my opinion, ideas are a dime a dozen. An idea is nothing without the ability (taking the $ risk, generating the commitment) to fund it, make it and sell it. -Mike
Reply to
mlcorson
Jerome H. Lemelson
Reply to
Sunworshipper
Tom: Any good (product) idea takes a commitment of time, smarts and money to bring it to market and then do the right things that make it successful (profitable). Those people with the balls to risk their own personal funds, stay up late nights overcoming problems and plain just won't take no for an answer are the ones that make it. There are also a lot of people who did all the right things, built great products and still failed. In my opinion, ideas are a dime a dozen. An idea is nothing without the ability (taking the $ risk, generating the commitment) to fund it, make it and sell it. -Mike
Excellent reply! Also, those with the "hook" into a market search for ideas for products that can be shoved into the existing pipe. That "pipe" is a valuable commodity!
Reply to
Tom Gardner
Edison had more inventions but he had squads of people doing a lot of the work while old Tom took all the credit.
Reply to
Tom Gardner
It doesn't work that way. Ya give 'em books, they eat the covers. Been there, done that, had a lot of fun along the way. Won a buncha patents though I don't own any nor care to. Idea guys find their own happiness. A need to be revered is a sure route to frustration.
Reply to
Don Foreman
On Wed, 24 Sep 2008 20:48:28 -0400, the infamous "Tom Gardner" scrolled the following:
Bill Gates could be considered a more modern rendition of Edison style.
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
Reply to
Larry Jaques
Except for the fact that Edison scrapped his bad ideas.
Reply to
Michael A. Terrell
I remember hearing about how the guy who invented intermediate wipers got screwed by the auto companies maybe 20 or 30 years ago. My reaction then, and pretty much my reaction now is - any idiot could have thought that one up.
Whey I see something like that, my thought is that this "inventor" was no inventor at all. He had one idea in his life, and expected to get rich from it. Real inventors create 10 ideas a day better than that one. Yes, some people are much better than others at creating good original ideas, but what's hard, is finding the one which is practical at the time you find it, and which isn't so obvious that 10 other guys didn't think it up at the same time. Dreaming up new ideas is easy. Finding new solutions which are practical is not so easy. That requires a lot of research and investigation to understand what will be needed, and at which point in time it will become practical. And then creating a design that works, and is affordable for the application.
At the same time this guy made the invention of his life - a timer to control a motor, real inventors and creative engineers were at work creating the SR-71 blackbird - something so advance and creative it probably included a 1000 items more noteworthy than this timer, and none of the engineers creating all those inventions every day expected to get anything in return except another day's pay.
Now maybe there's more to this story and I'd like to see the movie to find out. But mostly, I think the inventor probably had a greatly over inflated ego. I don't doubt the auto companies ripped him off, but I also don't think he deserved much more than about a day's pay for his "invention" (from what I understand of it).
I think mostly, the movie is just an attempt to leverage the appeal of the old theme of "little guy being screwed by large corporation and standing up for himself" angle. I only wish it was over something more significant than the "invention" of interment windshield wipers.
Reply to
Curt Welch
Yeah,
Real genius would have been to make the wipers pause at the top of their stroke too. Using those Teflon blades with my intermittent wipers is TERRIBLE. The freaking blades wipe the glass so clean, they cause an almost "fingernails-on-the-blackboard" screech on the backstroke so bad I have to hope for MORE rain.
Take care.
Brian Lawson, Bothwell, Ontario.
ps....I hear the garbage truck outside right now. THAT was real genius!!
Reply to
Brian Lawson
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SR-71 and intermittent wipers are two different types of ideas.
What could any one guy on the SR71 team, any of 'em, have done by themselves?
Little ideas count too. I had a microwave that had one damn nice feature. Most microwave turntables, the dish spins at some rate that just seems reasonable. Now, most things you nuke go in for a time that's a multiple of ten seconds. Spin that platter at any old rate, and the mug you put in is now hot, and the handle is pointing any old way, and chances are good you have to grab the hot mug, or bend over and reach over the steam. Now, spin that platter at 1 revolution per 10 seconds, and that handle is right where you put it.
Genius!
Dave
Reply to
spamTHISbrp
On 26 Sep 2008 04:38:39 GMT, the infamous snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) scrawled the following:
How's the air up there, Curt? Pretty thin?
So, what petty idea was stolen from you to get you so vitriolic?
True, with the type of contracts they have to sign to get work nowadays. That's truly sad, too. The better companies share the wealth and/or fame with their more inspired workers. THAT is the way it should be, at least in most instances.
I haven't yet seen the movie, but to hear you rant like this without having seen it is quite interesting. Tell us the real story behind your acrid response, sir.
Just -try- to tell me that you've never used them, Curt.
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
Reply to
Larry Jaques
It's always been thus at many or most large companies: in the "fine print" of the job application, it says that anything one thinks of, on or off the job, belongs to the company. In practice, that only applies to ideas relevant to the company's business: companies don't go after a guy who designs engines during the day and invents new fishing lures hoops nights and weekends.
My employer paid $1 for each patent filed back in the day. That was later increased to $1500 per patent.
I never knew an engineer or scientist who felt shorted by this approach. Engineers are paid to innovate and invent. It's part of their job. It's not an explicit job requirement, but those who do are usually better compensated and have more interesting assignments than those who don't.
Some feel that "the idea" is gold. In fact, there's a lot of work and investment involved in getting from "idea" to profit. If ya wanna be an inventor/entrepeneur, ya gotta do the whole job or get others to do for you. Many or most engineers don't want to mess with the many tedious and mundane aspects (and risks) of taking an idea from eureka to market success.
Reply to
Don Foreman
My inflation adjusted $0.75...
On the subject of intermittent windshield wipers and patents, one of the requirements for issuing a patent is supposed to be that the invention is not obvious to someone in the field.
People in the automotive engineering field drive automobiles, and anyone driving an automobile before / without intermittent windshield wipers was already manually operating them in an intermittent fashion under light rain conditions.
Based on that existing knowledge, automating the intermittent function would indeed be obvious and therefore a patent for such would be invalid whether issued to an independent inventor or an automobile manufacturer.
Pete C.
Reply to
Pete C.
As useless as it was before, I now see that there is *no* reason for a Patent Office, even for large companies. We can close it.
Until then, we can retroactively invalidate any patent claim by simply saying "Well, I see it's just obvious that you would invent this particular kind of assembly robot with these particular features operated in this particular way."
Genius is recognizing the obvious before everyone else. It should be rewarded.
--Winston
Reply to
Winston
Inventing a practical electric light - Genius Inventing the telephone - Genius Applying a timer to windshield wipers to do what people were already doing manually - Obvious
Reply to
Pete C.
People were already using candles, fireplaces and gas light. According to your criteria, the electric light is nothing more than another way to illuminate a room.
You were referring to Joseph Swann's 1878 invention, the one that he patented before Edison claimed it as his own, right?
Or were you talking about the 1839 arc lamp?
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A faster, more convienient telegraph, invented 39 years before the telephone. Telegraph multiplexers proved you could place different audio frequencies on a telegraph line. Duplex telegraphs proved you could use the same line in both directions at the same time. Was the telephone such a great leap from that point intellectually, especially from our viewpoint in a spoiled, pampered future?
OK Pete, using your criteria these are all obvious and unpatentable, yes?:
* A clothes dryer that automatically sorts and folds your laundry.
*
A kitchen robot that prepares 100's of your favorite dishes, just the way you like them.
* A robot in the back yard that keeps the lawn in trim, cares for your vegetable garden. Waters, weeds, mulches, fertilizes.
*
A self - cleaning front yard that gathers and bales twigs and leaves for pickup.
* A robot that vacuums your living room and hallway; another that scrubs your kitchen floor:
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* Another to do bomb disposal:
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'Obviousness' is just another retroactive justification for theft.
--Winston
Reply to
Winston
The intermittent windshield wiper became practical when SCRs (Silicon Controlled Rectifiers) or power transistors and circuits like the 555 timer chip became inexpensive enough. The windshield wiper motor already had a set of contacts to open the circuit when the wipers reached the "park" position. All that was necessary was to kick the wipers on for a moment (through the "run" wire) to get past the park position, and then sit back to wait for it to park at the end of a single wipe. Then wait an adjustable time and kick again. Since the park contacts were not designed for that frequent a use (just once when you turned off the wipers when the rain went away) adding solid state components to it made it more reliable so you could depend on that to work.
Enjoy, DoN.
Reply to
DoN. Nichols
You don't need robots for those jobs, we already have women!
Jon
Reply to
Jon Danniken

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