Tag Archives: Ben Franklin

“What kind of man owns his own computer?” Ben Franklin knows

Invention is about the future. Looking back at the technology and images that defined us, however, can provide an idea of where we are headed.  

A case in point is the Apple II personal computer. The ad below appeared in the venerable Scientific American magazine in May 1980. It seems almost laughable in its blatant appeal to the ego, although it was on the certainly on track about the PC’s ability to empower individuals and encourage creativity.

Ben Franklin designing the kite that helped to discover electricity (below) is a provocative image. Franklin was the original “scientific” American – statesman, inventor, writer. The Apple II, introduced in 1977, came with 4K of memory, expandable to 48K.  Its CPU speed was rated at 1 MHz. It was the kind of tool that could make genius even better.

Below is the original ad for the Apple II (full text is below the ad for easy reading).

What kind of man owns his own computer?

Rather revolutionary, the whole idea of owning your own computer? Not if you’re a diplomat, printer, scientist, inventor… or a kite designer, too. Today there’s Apple Computer. It’s designed to be a personal computer. To uncomplicate your life. And make you more effective.

It’s a wise man who owns an Apple.

If your time means money, Apple can help you make more of it. In an age of specialists, the most successful specialists stay away from uncreative drudgery. That’s where Apple comes in.

Apple is a real computer, right to the core. So just like big computers, it manages data, crunches numbers, keeps records, processes your information and prints reports. You concentrate on what you do best. And let Apple do the rest. Apple makes that easy with three programming languages— including Pascal—that let you be your own software expert.

Apple, the computer worth not waiting for.

Time waiting for access to your company’s big mainframe is time wasted. What you need in your department on your desk is a computer that answers only to you…

Apple Computer. It’s less expensive than timesharing. More dependable than distributed processing. Far more flexible than centralized EDP. And, at less than $2500 (as shown), downright affordable.

Visit your local computer store.

You can join the personal computer revolution by visiting the Apple dealer in your neighborhood. We’ll give you his name when you call our toll-free number (800) 538-9696. In California, (800) 662-9238. Apple Computer, 10260 Bandley Drive, Cupertino, CA 95014.


A Manly Man

Note the ad’s manly images. (I guess 1980s women didn’t need a computer.) Ben Franklin was never a pinup for machismo, although he was said to be quite the lady’s man… $2,500 in 1980 is equivalent to about $8,000 today – a price almost no individual would be willing to pay for a personal computer. Computers have gotten smarter and smaller; people, not so much.

In 1980:

  • U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaims a grain embargo against the USSR with the support of the European Commission
  • The Rubik’s Cube makes its international debut at The British Toy and Hobby Fair, Earl’s Court, London
  • The 1980 Winter Olympics took place in Lake Placid, New York
  • The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
  • Pac-Man, the best-selling arcade game of all time, is released in Japan

Another print ad introduced the Apple II in September 1977. It included a $598 board-only version for “do-it-yourself hobbyists.”

And while we are on the subject, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, available for free, here, is an unusually timely and readable work, especially for anyone interested in invention and the creative process.

Frank Woodworth Pine wrote that it was “the most remarkable of all the remarkable histories of our self-made men.” with Franklin as the greatest exemplar of the “self-made man”.

Image source: http://blog.modernmechanix.com; technobezz.com

City of Brotherly Love Ranks High in IP Holders, Advisors

iPlaces: Patents Pave Philadelphia Freeway

Often overshadowed in technology and finance by the likes of San Francisco-Silicon Valley, Boston and New York, Philadelphia is right up there with the very best when it comes to intellectual property rights. The City of Brotherly Love is rich with leading IP advisers, holders and service providers.

IP players located in and around Philadelphia include (in no particular order):

InterDigital (NASDAQ:IDCC), with 8,800 issued patents and 9,700 applications is one of he leading wireless invention developers and patent holders, and of late a much pursed acquisition target. The company is headquartered in King of Prussia.

Allied Security Trust, the defensive patent aggregator is composed of 21 technology giants, including IBM, HP, Oracle and Intel. AST is located in Lambertville, NJ, just over the border from New Hope, PA, where its CEO Dan McCurdy is based. Nearby are the two offices of TPL (Technology, Patents and Licensing), the patent analysis and advisory firm established in 1998 by Charles Eldering, a successful inventor himself. TPL has locations in Doylestown and Philadelphia.

Rembrandt IP Management, the NPE, is in Bala Cynwyd and Bramson & Pressman, the patent law and advisory firm, is in Conshohocken.  Bob Bramson, former Unisys patent chief and InterDigital Patents Corporation  founder and former President, is a director of WiLAN, which has made a hostile bid for fellow Canadian licensing business Mosaid.

The University of Pennsylvania, home to one of the most successful patent licensing programs, is headed by Mike Cleare (formerly of Columbia University). Lou Berneman, who preceded Mike at Penn, is with Texelerate on Delancey Street, a public-private patent advisory and trading group. 1790 Analytics, a spinout from CHI Research and a pioneer in the field of patent analytics, especially in citation analysis, is located in Haddonfield, NJ, a stones throw from Philly.

Royalty rate publication Licensing Economics Review, which monitors patent royalty rates, is published by AUS Consultants of Mount Laurel, NJ. In nearby Warren, there is ThinkFire, the patent advisory firm that is now a decade old. Also, linked to Philadelphia are pharmaceutical and healthcare leaders, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Wyeth, Merck, GE and Siemens Medical Solutions. Rohm and Haas, Sunoco, and Boeing’s helicopter division also are in the Philadelphia area. Tyco Electronics, now TE Connectivity, has more than 10,000 patents and is based in nearby Berwyn, PA.

Don Boreman, a key player at ICAP Patent Brokerage and Lucent, lives in the Allentown area, as does Jim Finnegan, head of IP business at Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is located on JFK Boulevard in Philly. Cable and internet provider Comcast owns NBC-TV.

If I’m overlooking any Philly-area IP businesses or individuals, please let me know.

*     *     *

Philadelphia Father Ben Franklin did not “invent” electricity as many believe.

He is, however, credited for coming up with the lightning rod, bifocals, the urinary catheter, the water tight ship compartment, a safer and more heat-efficient furnace and the odometer.

Ironically, Franklin chose not to contest infringements of his inventions, “having no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes.”

Image source: benfranklinmainstreet.com; frontdoor.com

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