Moment in Time – May ’22

By Mickey Dunaway | Reprinted with Permission by Limitless Magazine | Cornelius, NC

I expect that most of the readers of this column have played the childhood game of Mother, May I?  The gist of Mother, May I? is that one person of the group is elected/selected to be “mother, or captain, or father”—you get the idea—and locates herself or himself at the end of the yard, which is the finish line.  The remaining children must ask mother or father permission to do certain things that will take them closer to the goal of reaching mother or father.  The first one to cross the finish line is the winner and gains control of the game as the new mother or father

This month’s Moment in Time is about people who, as children, probably did not play Mother, May I, or at least did not play it well.  We are looking for significant inventions patented in the month of May.

Patents and Inventions in May

11888Patent to Nikola Tesla for “electrical transmission of power” using his Alternating Current (AC) model.Edison’s DC current model lost out to Tesla’s AC model, which, today, powers the world. I know you are wondering about which model the Tesla car uses.  It uses both.  The electric motors that power the car use AC current, but the batteries which power the motors must be DC.
41943Igor Sikorsky was granted a patent for the helicopter.But really, it was da Vinci who invented the concept in the late 1400s.
61851John Gorrie patented an ice-making, refrigeration, and air conditioning machine.Southerners are mighty grateful for Mr. Gorrie’s invention.
71958Not important, but significant: The Barbie Doll is patented.The doll was named after Ruth Handler’s (the inventor at Mattel) daughter, Barbara.
101752Ben Franklin tested his lighting rod and thereby saved important buildings worldwide from damage from lightning—especially churches due to their tall steeples.Be sure to watch Ken Burns’s PBS series on Benjamin Franklin.  You will be amazed.
191931Edwin Budding of England licensed his invention, the lawnmower.And became the curse of every male—especially during his teen years!
221819Bicycles were introduced into the US in NYC. They were dubbed “swift walkers.”
1906Wright Brothers were granted a patent for a “Flying Machine,” which had a motor.If you make a trip to The Outer Banks, be sure to stop by the Wright Brother’s National Memorial at Kittyhawk.
231930Patent Act of 1930 allowed for patenting of certain plants.I have often wondered just how much money is made by the inventors of the Encore Azalea and the Knock Out Roses!
271796James McLean was given a patent for an improvement in piano fortes.Had to do a bit of research on this one.  The designation of pianissimo in music means soft, and forte means loud.  Therefore, Mclean’s patent improved the ability of the instrument (and its player) to do both.
301790The First Federal Copyright bill was enacted by Congress and signed by George Washington.The Internet has made plagiarism—a violation of copyright issued to a person—a significant issue in the field of research.  As a professor at UNCC, I had a colleague summarily dismissed for plagiarism, and justifiably so. In the field of art—especially music or videos—using a person’s work in public without paying a royalty deprives the creator of income.

Interestingly, I learned from the PBS Ken Burns Special on Benjamin Franklin that Franklin never profited from his inventions.  He believed that his creations (swim fins, wood-burning stove, lightning rod, the glass armonica, and bifocals, to name some) should improve the lives of citizens.

“When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”― Benjamin Franklin

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