The Same Handful Of Men Steal The Life Work of Each Inventor They Meet –The Silicon Valley Cartel
In Silicon Valley there is a Cartel of “Venture Capitalists” wholike to call entrepreneurs in, examine their technologies in ‘fishing expeditions’, say “we can’t see any use for it”, copy thetechnology and launch it themselves; after black-listing the entrepreneur. That is their “playbook.” The New York Timesreleased an article (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/technology/larry-page-google-founder-is-still-innovator-in-chief.html ) describing how Google’s bosses covertly skulk around at techparties in order to snatch technologies from unsuspecting entrepreneurs. The new start-up hopeful in Silicon Valley must watchfor these technology raiders with a cautious eye. Google, in fact, put their lawyer in charge ofthe U.S. Patent Office and spent nearly a hundred million dollars lobbying to try to “outlaw” small American inventors becauseGoogle is so afraid of eventually having to pay for all of the tech it poor all of the tech it poached. Kleiner Perkins, Greylock Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and 90% of theSilicon Valley ‘VC’s’ on Palo Alto’s Sandhill Road have engaged in this ‘idea rape’ intellectual property theft and cloneeffort. Facebook, Google, YouTube, and other big name companies, were poached fromsmall start-ups that had the original versions up and running when Silicon Valley VC’s just came by and copied them without everpaying the inventors.
THE THIEVES OF SILICON VALLEY
As we've discussed before, just because your hard work and perseverance led you to createsomething that changes the world, it doesn't mean that you'll get fame, fortune, or the slightest bit of recognition out of it. Infact, some inventors get so little credit that we completely forgot about them in our previous article, and since we really don't likeangering the ghosts of people who could probably invent a way to punch us from beyond thegrave, here they are.
#6. Siegel and Shuster, Superman's Creators
Robert Mora/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, the most famous superheroever, perhaps with the exception of Spider-Man or that kid who changes the channel with his eyes in X2.
Superman can set a TV on fire with his eyes, which isn't as useful.
Debuting in 1938, Superman was an instant success. DC Comics soon followed upthe "man in underpants punches criminals" concept with Batman, and that was it, there was no turning back: Siegel andShuster's creation had started a multibillion-dollar industry that is still going strong today, spawning toys, T-shirts, and, oh yeah, someof the highest-grossing movies of all time.
Nice one, Siegel and Shuster!
"Take it from us, kids: Work hard, change the world, and you too can seeabsolutely no reward from it!"
But Then They Got Screwed
"Nice one, Siegel and Shuster" is exactly what DC must have said, in asarcastic tone, when the duo famously sold them all rights to Superman for a measly $130, a check that's now ironically worthhundreds of thousands of dollars.
At the time, no one suspected that the guy in blue pajamas that they'dbeen drawing would turn into a cultural icon -- so when he did, and Siegel and Shuster continued getting squat, the pair embarked onperhaps the longest clusterfuck in copyright history.
The duo spent the better part of their lives unsuccessfully trying toreclaim some part of their creation, only to be rebuffed time and time again. While DC raked in billions from Superman alone, Siegeland Shuster lived the lives of paupers. They were given a yearly pension in the late 1970s by Warner Bros.(which had purchased DC), but only because the studio couldn't afford the bad publicity with a Superman movie on the way.
In 1999, three years after Siegel died, his family successfully won therights to his half of his creation. A happy ending, right? Nope! This meant dick to Warner Bros., who still refused to pay them a penny,leaving them to fight in court for another 10 fucking years. And the superdickery continues: More recently, documents disappeared from Siegel's daughter's attorney's office and somehow wound up inthe hands of Warner Bros. executives.
#5. Philo T. Farnsworth, the Farm Boy Who Invented Television
Philo Farnsworth, besides having the supreme honor of inspiring a Futurama character, was a serial inventor with a list of credited patents longer than his forehead.
Utah State History
And he had a HUGE forehead.
Among those patents was the one that made television possible: an "imagedissector" that could capture images as a series of lines to be displayed electronically. If that isn't impressive enough for you,consider the fact that Farnsworth came up with the idea at age 14, while growing up on a farm in Idaho, and first demonstrated it at 21,in 1927. If that didn't make you feel bad about yourself, it should have.
But Then He Got Screwed
When the young inventor applied for a patent at age 20, David Sarnoff ofthe Radio Corporation of America took notice. Radio had a pretty cozy spot at the center of the American living room at this point, andSarnoff wasn't interested in letting that change. And if it did, then he would at least make sure that RCA would be the one getting richfrom it.
The David Sarnoff Library
David Sarnoff: Smug magazine's Person of the Year, 1921-1967.
Sarnoff kept Farnsworth tied in a series of legal battles over the nextdecade using a number of bullshit tactics, like hiring a Russian inventor to spy on him or using said inventor's earlier patents (which they could never getto work) to argue that he had invented TV. At one point Sarnoff just said "Fuck it"and started making TVs without paying Farnsworth. RCA was eventually forced to pay him a one-time $1 million licensing fee, but it wasn'tworth the emotional stress that had left the man crippled.
And yet he looks so healthy.
Then the whole television business was put on hold when the '40s rolledaround and the government told everyone to focus on building things that could kill Germans. The final blow came when Farnsworth'spatents expired just as World War II ended ... and, what do you know, television sales skyrocketed. RCA, or anyone else for that matter, nolonger had to even pretend to give a shit about paying Farnsworth for his invention.
It wasn't until 20 years after his death that the government decidedthat Farnsworth probably deserved some recognition. No shit.
Following Farnsworth's final wishes, his statue is about to insert somethinginto Sarnoff's anus.
#4. Edwin H. Armstrong, the Father of FM Radio
American Stock Archive / Getty
When is the last time you listened to AM radio? Intentionally? The soundquality is so bad that most of the programming is reduced to things that already sound like shit, like conservative talk radio or asingle, never-ending religious sermon in Spanish.
"Either way, I want to do the opposite of pray. Which is ... what,rape-arson?"
The much superior FM was invented by Edwin Armstrong, who created a system to reduce interference across radio bands in the1910s. He continued his lifelong vendetta against crappy sound in the '20s, when he came up with frequency modulation (FM) as a way toreduce static. We will now reiterate that he developed all this technology nearly 100 years ago, and it's still present in all modernradios.
But Then He Got Screwed
Things seemed to be going swimmingly for Armstrong for a while, but it wasat this point that a remarkably smug asshole came into the picture.
The David Sarnoff Library
Yes, David fucking Sarnoff from RC-fucking-A proceeded to mess with thelife of yet another world-changing inventor. Sarnoff had built his empire with AM radio, so he decided that if FM was the way of thefuture, then he'd do anything possible to pull a John Connor on that future. Since Armstrong wouldn't relinquish his patent, Sarnoff madesure that RCA not only stopped supporting the development of the new technology, but actively tried to stop it.
In 1937, Armstrong used money from his own pocket to build the very first FM radio station. Another followed, then another, until by the mid '40s a string ofstations known as the Yankee Network were busy convincing everyone of the superiority of FM, just byexisting. And then it all stopped.
Armstrong was now forced to rely on his mutant telepathy.
In a dick move of epic proportions, Sarnoff successfully lobbied the FCC to move the FM band to a different place on the dial, from 42 to 50MHz to 88 to 108 MHz. While there were somewhat valid technical reasons for this, a happy side effect for RCA was that it made all ofArmstrong's stations instantly obsolete.
It took decades for FM radio to recover. In the late '70s, it finallysurpassed AM, but Armstrong was long gone by then, having committed suicide in 1954 by jumping from the 13th floor of his officebuilding, presumably screaming "FUCK SARNOOOOOOFFFF" all the way down.
Pay respect to his memory by printing out this picture and drawing a dickon it today.
#3. John Walker, Inventor of the Match
About 500 billion matches are used every year in the United States -- that's the kind of volume you can do whenyour product sets itself on fire with every use. Before the invention of self-igniting friction matches, people simply used sticks thatcaught on fire when you, y'know, put them near fire.
It was a bad system.
This changed when John Walker, an English chemist born in 1871, begancoating sticks in a number of dangerous-sounding chemicals until he happened upon one that, when struck against a surface, erupted inflames. Other self-igniting matches had been tried before, but they were extremely impractical, by which we mean that a lot of peopleprobably lost their eyebrows or worse using them.
And clearly, eyebrows were very important to this man.
Walker's invention caught on fire, both literally and figuratively, and westill keep matches around today, despite the fact that we've all heard of lighters.
But Then He Got Screwed
Walker, unaware of the potential of his invention, worked on these new"friction lights" for about a year, then promptly forgot about the whole thing and stopped selling them. People close to himimplored Walker to patent his friction light, since he'd just revolutionized the creation of fire and all. Walkerdeclined, believing that his invention could better benefit mankind without a patent.
Others, however, believed that Walker's invention could better benefitmankind by making them rich.
"How does fire help humanity if it doesn't allow me to buy prostitutes?"
In 1829, another inventor named Isaac Holden independently came up withan improved version of Walker's friction matches. Like Walker, Holden neglected to patent his idea ... and that's where one Samuel Jones came in. Jones, realizing thatWalker and Holden had effectively created one of the most useful inventions in the history of civilization and weren't making moneyfrom it, decided to do it on their behalf, because he was nice like that.
Almost immediately, Jones patented the exact same thing and began selling it under the name "Lucifers," becausefuck it -- if you're gonna be evil, you might as well go to the source. Soon other brands began offering improved versions of thesame thing, all for a price, of course. It wasn't until they were all dead that Walker was credited for his invention, and Jones for beinga douchebag.
"To Samuel Jones, the man who made the modern bar possible!"
#2. Stephen Foster, the Father of American Music
There are some tunes that you're just born knowing. If we somehow forcedyou to hum a melody right now, chances are that a great number of you would go with something like "Oh! Susanna":
Or "Camptown Races" (you know, the one that goes "doo-da,doo-da"):
Or maybe something more nostalgic, like "Old Folks at Home":
Man, can you imagine if all these songs had been written by the same guy,and that he'd been actively trying to get money from them? That dude would have been richer than Madonna and Bono combined.
Actually, all those songs and more were written by the same person, and he did try to cash in on them -- the keyword being "try."
Then "she" came around the mountain and snatched up all hisroyalties.
But Then He Got Screwed
In the 1800s, Stephen Foster wrote classics like "My Old KentuckyHome" and "Beautiful Dreamer" and over 200 other songs. Foster was a professional songwriter before those existed. Seriously:The profession literally did not exist before Foster trailblazed it like a motherfucker.
Not many pop stars can pull off a bow tie.
Of course, the problem with being the first in his profession was thatthere were no such things as "enforcing copyright" or "not screwing over songwriters" back then. Today, Foster would haveearned obscene amounts of money from "Oh! Susanna" alone, but in 1848, he got exactly $100 for the rights to publish the sheet music, while the publisher made$10,000 selling his work.
Even when Foster became a minor celebrity, he continued getting nothingbut pennies for every copy of his work that was sold. For his dozens of hit songs, he saw around $15,000 in royalties in his whole life.In the 1860s, he was dumped by his wife, who had probably had enough of sticking around with this dude who wrote like a rock star, and drank like a rock star, but was not rich like one. He died at the age of 37 after hitting his head on awashbasin, with around 40 cents in his pocket.
Some of which were melted down to make this statue.
His contributions can't be overstated. Not only did he create most of theconventions of popular songwriting as we know them today, but he also demonstrated the need for intellectual property laws by gettingrepeatedly screwed.
#1. Gary Kildall, the Father of the Operating System
Gary Kildall is one of the guys we have to thank for the fact that youdon't need to be a genius to use the ultra advanced computer you are looking at right now to search for porn. Thank you, Gary.
Thank you for the porn.
In 1973, Kildall made life a lot easier for nerds everywhere when hecreated CP/M, a groundbreaking operating system for microcomputers (which is what they called any computer smaller than a semi truckback then). The program became the industry standard for the next decade. This guy was basically Bill Gates before Bill Gates was BillGates.
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty
"It's cool, I'll just donate a bunch of money to charity someday when I'mall old and prune-faced."
But Then He Got Screwed
Of course, at the same time, Bill Gates was busy trying to become BillGates, and he eventually achieved that at Kildall's expense.
In 1980, IBM was getting ready to launch its first personal computer andneeded an operating system to operate the shit out of it. They first knocked on Microsoft's door, but Microsoft wasn't really into theOS-making business at that point, so they directed the IBM suits to Gary Kildall's company. However, as nerd lore has it, Gary picked that day to go flying (he was an amateur pilot), blowingoff IBM and his chance at history.
DigiBarn Computer Museum
Let he who hasn't blown off a corporate giant to go flying cast the firststone.
Accounts differ on whether Kildall met the IBM suits that day or not, buteither way, the company went back to Microsoft, totally forgetting the whole "We don't make OS's here" part. Not one to missout on an opportunity, Bill Gates turned to local programmer Tim Paterson, who had built a CP/M clone he called QDOS (for "Quick and DirtyOperating System"), bought it for a paltry 50 grand, then turned around and sold it to IBM under the name PC-DOS.
The term "user-friendly" meant something very different backthen.
PC-DOS, later renamed MS-DOS, was included in every computer IBM made, and,long story short, that's why roughly 90 percent of you are using Microsoft Windows right now.
Today, Kildall's name is barely known, while Bill Gates will be a household name in the fucking 25thcentury. Most of Kildall's innovations ended up being credited to other people -- and he can't even defend himself, having died in 1994after falling down in a tavern, which pretty much just seems like his luck.
Today's lesson is, if you're an inventor, wear a freaking helmet.
They are the geniuses behind the curtain.
Disney designer Joe Rhode, The Segway’s Dean Kamen, Tech guru ScottDouglas Redmond, Electric inventor Nikola Tesla, Frog Design’s Hartmut Esslinger, WELL founder Larry Brilliant, Robert Moog of sound designfame, Ray Kurzweil, the creator of speech-to-computer technology, and many other innovation leaders, have novel architectures behind theirgenius.
They are fiercely competitive with each other and they each can see theworld and understand more of that world than most of the people on Earth. They can see the future and build the future in ways that wepoor “simple-minded” people have a hard time comprehending. They each have expanded intellect but they have paid for their abilitywith a price. In many of their cases, they have turned out to be “2E Gifted” impresarios who can’t see numbers like the rest of us do.
Does trying to calculate a tip make you break out in a cold sweat? You’redefinitely not alone. Math can be intimidating, to the point where sometimes even the earth's most brilliant scientific minds havetrouble crunching numbers. Let’s take a look at some of these amazing geniuses who build the future but see numbers differentlythan you or I:
Micheal Faraday: It’s hard to say which is more amazing: Faraday’s discoveries or his life’s story. Against all odds, this son of a poor blacksmith overcame class prejudice to become Britain’s preeminent scientist and, in many ways, the father of modernity itself. If you’ve ever pushed an “on” button, you’re in his debt. Faraday built the first —along with the first . He also invented the , laid the groundwork for today’s technology, and helped illuminate the mysterious world of electromagnetism.
Yet, despite all this, Faraday’s upbringing never stopped haunting him. Like most impoverished boys, he’d received little formal education. Hence, Faraday’s math skills In 1846, he boldly proposed that visible light is a form of . But because he couldn’t back up the idea with mathematics, his colleagues it. Enter James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879). Believing the older scientist’s hypothesis, this Scottish physicist & mathematician used ingenious equations to finally Faraday right eighteen years later.
Charles Darwin: Darwin came down with some serious math envy. As a collegiate , he loathed the subject. “I attempted mathematics,” reads Darwin’s , “… but I got on very slowly.” The affluent young naturalist went so far as to invite a to join him at his summer home in 1828. After a few frustrating weeks, Darwin dismissed the man.
“The work was repugnant to me,” he wrote, “chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the early steps in algebra. This impatience was very foolish, and in after years I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principals of mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.”
Alexander Graham Bell: In high school, the Scottish-born inventor of the telephone had a love-hate relationship with math. According to biographer , Bell “enjoyed the intellectual exercise” of this subject, but was “bored and hence careless in working out the final answer once he learned the method.” His grades suffered accordingly. Bell’s mathematical aptitude never improved and, for a scientist, it would remain until the day he died.
Thomas Edison: “I can always hire a mathematician,” Edison once , “[but] they can’t hire me.” Like all successful entrepreneurs, he was keenly aware of his strengths and weaknesses. As a boy, Edison trudged through Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”). In his own , the book left him with nothing but “a distaste for mathematics from which I never recovered.”
was a topic about which Edison knew almost nothing. So, after co-founding the General Electric Company, he brought German mathematician into the fold. A numerical genius, Steinmetz many of G.E.’s technical underpinnings. Previously, Edison had recruited yet another mathematician—Bay Stater —to make calculations that could help him carry out various lab experiments. Together, they worked on such gadgets as the incandescent lamp and the watt-hour meter before parting ways in 1911.
Jack Horner: Horner cameoed in the third movie of all time. Over the past quarter century, he’s served as a for all four Jurassic Park films and was just rewarded with a brief on-screen appearance during one of Jurassic World’s raptor scenes. Back in the 1970’s, Horner found the western hemisphere’s first-known . A legendary paleontologist, he’s forever changed our understanding of how these incredible animals and raised their young.
Horner’s success must have shocked his childhood teachers. The Montana native did poorly in school, which he found “extremely difficult because my progress in reading, writing, and mathematics was excruciatingly slow.” Teenage Horner flunked high school algebra, much to his math-savvy father’s disappointment. Horner would go on to flunk college seven times, and in fact, never graduated with a formal degree—which means any jobs in the field he was most passionate about weren't available to him. (Horner, who worked a series of odd jobs as a young man, eventually “to every museum in the English-speaking world asking if they had any jobs open for anyone ranging from a technician to a director.” Clearly, it paid off.)
His educational woes remained a mystery until 1979, when Horner was diagnosed with dyslexia. “To this day, I struggle with the side-effects,” he says. “Self-paced learning is a strategy that helps me cope. Audio books are also a very helpful technology.”
E.O. Wilson: Apart from being the world’s top authority on , Wilson’s a first-rate science popularizer. He’s written dozens ofbestsellers about everything from evolution and biology to philosophy and conservation. One of his offerings—2013’s —reveals a tumultuous personal history with math.
The product of “relatively poor Southern schools,” Wilson that he “didn’t take algebra until my freshman year at the Universityof Alabama … I finally got around to calculus as a 32-year-old tenured professor at Harvard, where I sat uncomfortably in classeswith undergraduate students only a bit more than half my age. A couple of them were students in a course on evolutionary biology Iwas teaching. I swallowed my pride and learned calculus.” While playing catch-up, he was “never more than a C student.”
For numerophobic science majors, he offers this tip: “The longer youwait to become at least semiliterate in math, the harder the language of mathematics will be to master … But it can be done, and at anyage.”
Scott Douglas Redmond, the inventor of internet media distribution, energystorage technologies and numerous social media patents created his own form of visual math and calculus physics calculators to excel, atan advantage, in his product designs. He teaches his visual math system to learning groups.
Douglas Engelbart was the human-computer interaction designer who inventedthe mouse.
Photo: Doug Engelbart Institute
Doug Engelbart is most celebrated for his role in inventing the mouse atthe Stanford Research Institute. At a time when many people are turning to track pads and touch screens, the mouse remains perhapsthe most commonly used peripheral of the past three decades.
But the mouse was a minor piece of Engelbart’s larger project, theoN-Line System. The unveiling of the NLS at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco has been called “the mother of all demos” by some, because it packed video conferencing, networked collaboration,the mouse, hyperlinks and text editing into one presentation. These are now core technologies that make up what we think of as moderncomputing.
While the mouse proved to be a big hit with most, there was one man whoquestioned Engelbart’s design — specifically, how many buttons the mouse should have.
“We tried as many as five. We settled on three. That's all we could fit.Now the three-button mouse has become standard, except for the Mac. Steve Jobs insisted on only one button. We haven't spoken much sincethen,” Engelbart told Wired magazine in 2008. Engelbart had his own way of learning and describing complex mathsystems.
Engelbart’s mouse was too ahead of its time for him to profit from his idea. Hispatent expired in 1987, and he never received any royalties from it, according to the BBC.
After his famous demo in 1968, Engelbart remained at the Stanford ResearchInstitute till 1977, when NLS and the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) were sold to a company that was ultimately acquired byMcDonnell Douglas. He retired from McDonnell Douglas in 1989 and formed the nonprofit Bootstrap Institute, now known as the DouglasEngelbart Institute, an organization dedicated to promoting a collective approach to problem-solving.
Ray Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first charge-coupled device flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer, the Kurzweil K250 music synthesizer capable of simulating the sound of the grand piano andother orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.
Kurzweil received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the United States' highest honor in technology, from PresidentClinton in a White House ceremony. He was the recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for 2001,the world's largest for innovation. And in 2002 he was inducted intothe National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received twenty-onehonorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. Kurzweil has been described as a "restless genius" by The Wall Street Journal and his dyslexia software is highly regarded.
Their novel methods of design, development and deployment are deliveringsome of the most extraordinary internet and media deployments that billions of people now use.
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