American Inventions : A History of Curious, Extraordiary, and Just Plain Useful Patents

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2004-03-01
  • Publisher: New York University Press

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This well-illustrated, in-depth study will not only reward and amuse readers but will leave them with much insight into the economic and society-shaping outcomes of the American genius for invention.-Foreword Magazine"Makes an excellent readable reference work."-New Scientist"Illustrated with diagrams from actual patent applications and organized into chapters on everything from babies, food, and wellness to entertainment, driving, and fashion, the book lives up to the author's promise."-Boston Globe"A collection of little-known facts."-Star Tribune - State Ed."An amazing showcase...An extremely well-researched and fascinating tour of American thrift and ingenuity throughout the twentieth century."-The Midwest Book Review"Van Dulken claims that a select number of these patents will offer us insight into the American dream itself. The book lives up to the author's promise."-Boston Sunday Globe"Van Dulken reels like a dotty old uncle with tales about Barbie's inventor, John "Jack" Ryan and a revelation of what a bald furby looks like. This book matches creative souls to their accomplishments."-/Crit/Books"This scholarly and fact-packed volume is an authority source for any aspiring inventor or designer who wants to protect an idea. His book is also a delight to anyone who enjoys obscurities and the nostalgia of inventions familiar."-Baltimore, MD Sun"Van Dulken once again demonstrates his skill for compiling an impressively thorough catalogue of inventions. Just below the surface of this winding narrative lie fascinating nuggets of information sure to delight both trivia seekers and history buffs."-Publishers Weekly"A tour de force"-Design News"Van Dulken provides interesting historical facts that define the long-term impact of each eureka moment."-www.sciencenews.orgPraise for Inventing the 20th Century"Remarkable . . . Get the book for yourself. It'll hold you for many hours."-The Wall Street Journal"A fascinating compendium for trivia seekers."-Publishers Weekly"Highly entertaining . . . In addition to being able to tell a good story, van Dulken . . . easily assembles complex ideas from chemistry and engineering and makes them palatable for the lay person. Van Dulken has assembled a panoramic shapshot of the century. By giving us a picture of our past, van Dulken also presents our future."-Boston Globe"Amid the thicket of information, one sad lesson emerges: Inventors deserve a lot more recognition and money than they get."-I.D."There is a touch of whimsey to this approach....It's worth reading for the deails behind familiar products and the perspective involved in the development of practical technologies."-Bloomsbury ReviewEvery American knows that Thomas Alva Edison's most famous invention was the light bulb, but who invented the pregnancy test? How was the airbag invented? How was the first computer patented? Stephen van Dulken examines the way inventions and patents such as these have helped to create the "American Dream."Between 1911 and 1999, the number of registered U.S. patents rose from 1 million to 6 million. Showcasing dozens of those original patent drawings from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,American Inventionsshows how trends in the history of the United States are reflected in the patent records. For example, the invention of the Frisbee dates back to 1920 when a Yale University student recalled throwing around the pie tins of the nearby Frisbie Baking Company, but it was not until 1948 that Fred Morrison and Warren Francioni capitalized on Americans' new-found fascination with flying saucers by applying for a patent on a plastic flying disk.Van Dulken surveys the inventions and patents of the workplace, the home, the kitchen, the open road, and the beauty parlor, to name a few, to find the compelling stories and eureka moments in American history. From bobby pins to in-line skates, from the jukebox to the fax machine, American Inventions is a captivating catalog of the famous and not-so-f

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Hush-a-bye, baby, in the tree top 1(22)
"The play's the thing" 23(20)
The sporting life 43(18)
That's entertainment! 61(23)
There's no place like home 84(20)
Food, glorious food 104(15)
Here's health 119(21)
The open road 140(17)
The customer is king 157(21)
Beauty is skin deep 178(16)
Working towards the paperless office 194(21)
Truth, justice and the American way 215(16)
Further reading 231(6)
Index 237

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