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

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NYU Press, 2004 - History - 241 pages
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Every 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 Inventions shows 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-famous contraptions that have shaped the American way of life.


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American inventions: a history of curious, extraordiary, and just plain useful patents

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A patent librarian for the British Library, van Dulken (Inventing the 19th Century; Inventing the 20th Century) once again demonstrates his skill for compiling an impressively thorough catalogue of ... Read full review

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The plays the thing
The sporting life
Thats entertainment
Theres no place like home
Food glorious food
Heres health
The open road
The customer is king
Beauty is skin deep
Working towards the paperless office
Truth justice and the American way
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About the author (2004)

The author of Inventing the 20th Century: 100 Inventions that Shaped the World and American Inventions: A History of Curious, Extraordinary, and Just Plain Useful Patents (both available through NYU Press), Stephen Van Dulken is an expert curator in the Patents Information Service of The British Library.

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