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´╗┐Title: The Art of Inventing
Author: Prindle, Edwin J.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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EDWIN J. PRINDLE, M.E., L.L.M., of the New York Bar.

  A paper read at the 23d Annual Convention of the American Institute of
  Electrical Engineers, Milwaukee, Wis., May 28-31, 1906.

  _A paper presented at the 23d Annual Convention of the American
  Institute of Electrical Engineers, Milwaukee, Wis., May 28-31, 1906._

Copyright 1906. By A. I. E. E.



There are many kinds of invention. The poet, the artist, the
playwright, the novelist all exercise or may exercise invention in the
production of their works. The merchant may exercise invention in the
devising of a new method of selling goods. The department store was an
invention of this class.

The subject of my paper is, however, the art of making technical
inventions, and particularly patentable inventions. And, first, of
its commercial importance; for the engineer is concerned with things
having a commercial value. By the art of inventing, wealth is created
absolutely out of ideas alone. It usually takes capital to develop an
invention and make it productive, but not always. A notable recent
example is Professor Pupin's loaded telephone line. He received a
very large sum of money, and his expenditures, as I understand, were
comparatively trivial.

The certificate of ownership of an invention is a patent, and the
importance of the art of invention will be made apparent from a brief
consideration of what rights a patent confers and of the part that
patents play in the industries.

A patent is the most perfect form of monopoly recognized by the law. As
was said in a recent decision:

    "Within his domain, the patentee is czar. The people must
    take the invention on the terms he dictates or let it alone
    for seventeen years. This is a necessity from the nature of
    the grant. Cries of restraint of trade and impairment of the
    freedom of sales are unavailing, because for the promotion of
    the useful arts the constitution and statutes authorize this
    very monopoly."

There is an enormous amount of wealth in this country that is based
upon patents. As an instance, might be mentioned the fact that the
United Shoe Machinery Company is, by means of patents, able to control
the sewing machines upon which ninety per cent. of the welt shoes
in the United States are sewed. The Bell Telephone Company, and the
Westinghouse Air Brake Company and many other corporations of the first
importance built themselves up on patents. Patents have become so well
recognized a factor in commerce that, in many lines of manufacture,
concerns do not depend simply upon cheapness of manufacture, or
quality of product, to maintain their trade, but they count on always
having a product which is at least slightly better than that of their
competitors, and which is covered by patents, so that they do not have
to compete with an article of equal merit. And they keep a corps of
inventors at work in a constant effort to improve the product, so that,
when the patents now giving protection have expired, they will have a
better article to offer, which shall also be protected by patents.

Inventing has become almost a recognized profession. Many large
concerns constantly employ a large corps of inventors, at liberal
salaries. Besides the inventors employed by large corporations, there
are many inventors who have maintained their independence, and are free
lances, so to speak. Some inventors have become wealthy almost solely
by their inventions, such as Edison, Bell, Westinghouse, Marconi,
Pupin, Tesla, and Sprague. A considerable number of the smaller
manufacturing concerns are built largely or wholly upon the inventions
of their principal owners.

Aside from the question of financial returns from inventing, the
inventor has the satisfaction of knowing that he is a producer of
the most fundamental kind. All material progress has involved the
production of inventions. Inventors are universally conceded to be
among the greatest benefactors of the human race.

The art of invention is therefore one of great commercial and
economical importance, and it becomes a matter of much interest to know
how inventions are produced. It is my object to attempt an explanation
of the manner of their production.

If it be inquired on what grounds I offer an explanation of this
apparently most difficult subject, I reply that, in the practice of
patent law, I have often had occasion and opportunity to inquire into
the mental processes of inventors, and that the subject is one to which
I have given considerable attention.

It seems to be popularly believed that the inventor must be born to his
work, and that such people are born only occasionally. This is true,
to a certain extent, but I am convinced there are many people who,
without suspecting it, have latent inventive abilities, which could be
put to work if they only knew how to go about it. The large percentage
of inventors in this country compared with all other countries, shows
that the inventive faculty is one which can be cultivated to some
extent. The difference in ingenuity is not wholly a matter of race,
for substantially the same blood exists in some other countries, but
it is the encouragement of our patent laws that has stimulated the
cultivation of this faculty.

The popular idea seems to be that an invention is produced by its
inventor at a single effort of the imagination and complete, as Minerva
sprang full grown and fully armed from the mind of Jove.

It is, undoubtedly, true that every inventor must have some imagination
or creative faculty, but, as I shall seek to show, this faculty may
be greatly assisted by method. While reasoning does not constitute
the whole of an inventive act, it can, so to speak, clear the way and
render the inventive act easier of accomplishment.

Invention has been defined as "In the nature of a guess; the mind
leaps across a logical chasm. Instead of working out a conclusion, it
imagines it." The courts have repeatedly held that that which could be
produced _purely_ by the process of reasoning or inference, on the part
of one ordinarily skilled in the art is not patentable, but that the
imaginative or creative faculty must somewhere be used in the process.
The mind must somewhere leap from the known to the unknown by means of
the imagination, and not by mere inference in making the invention. But
the inventor, consciously or unconsciously, by proper method, reduces
the length of this leap to much more moderate proportions than is
popularly supposed.

That reasoning and research frequently enter very largely into the
inventive act in aid of the creative faculty is the opinion of Dr.
Trowbridge, of Columbia University who said:

    "Important inventions leading to widespread improvements
    in the arts or to new industries do not come by chance, or
    as sudden inspiration,  but are in almost every instance
    the result of long and exhaustive researches by men whose
    thorough familiarity with their subjects enables them to see
    clearly the way to improvements. Almost all important and
    successful inventions which have found their way into general
    use and acceptance have been the products of well-balanced and
    thoughtful minds, capable of patient laborious investigation."

Judge Drummond, in a decision many years ago, said:

    "Most inventions are the result of experiment, trial, and
    effort, and few of them are worked out by mere will."

Most inventions are an evolution from some previously invented form. It
has been said:

    "We know exactly how the human mind works. The unknown--or
    unknowable--it always conceives in terms of the known."

Even the imagination conceives in terms of what is already known; that
is, the product of the imagination is a transformation of material
already possessed. Imagination is the association in new relations of
ideas already possessed by the mind. It is impossible to imagine that,
the elements of which are not already known to us. We cannot conceive
of a color which does not consist of a blending of one or more colors
with which we are already familiar. This evolution of an invention is
more or less logical, and is often worked out by logical processes to
such an extent that the steps or efforts of imagination are greatly
reduced as compared with the effort of producing the invention solely
by the imagination.

Edison is quoted as having said that "any man can become an inventor
if he has imagination and pertinacity," that "invention is not so much
inspiration as perspiration."

There are four classes of protectable inventions. These are

    Manufactures, and
    Compositions of matter.

In popular language an art may be said to be any process or series of
steps or operations for accomplishing a physical or chemical result.
Examples are, the art of telephoning by causing undulations of the
electric current corresponding to the sound waves of the spoken voice.
The art of casting car wheels, which consists in directing the metal
into the mold in a stream running tangentially instead of radially,
so that the metal in the mold is given a rotary movement, and the
heavy, sound metal flows out to the rim of the wheel, while the light
and defective metal is displaced toward the centre, where it is not
subjected to wear.

The term machine hardly needs any explanation. It may be said to be an
assemblage of two or more mechanical elements, having a law of action
of its own.

A manufacture is anything made by the hand of man, which is neither a
machine nor a composition of matter; such as, a chisel, a match, or a

The term composition of matter covers all combinations of two or more
substances, whether by mechanical mixture or chemical union, and
whether they be gases, fluids, powders or solids; such as, a new cement
or paint.

These definitions are not legally exact, but serve to illustrate the

In the making of all inventions which do not consist in the discovery
of the adaptability of some means to an end not intentionally being
sought after, the first step is the selection of a problem. The
inventor should first make certain that the problem is based upon a
real need. Much time and money is sometimes spent in an effort to
invent something that is not really needed. What already exists is good
enough or is so good that no additional cost or complication would
justify anything better. The new invention might be objectionable
because it would involve counter disadvantages more important than its
own advantages, so that a really desirable object is the first thing to
be sure of.

Having selected a problem, the next step should be a thorough analysis
of the old situation, getting at the reasons for the faults which
exist, and in fact discovering the presence of faults which are not
obvious to others, because of the tendency to believe that whatever is,
is right.

Then the qualities of the material, and the laws of action under which
one must operate should be exhaustively considered. It should be
considered whether these laws are really or only apparently inflexible.
It should be carefully considered whether further improvement is
possible in the same direction, and such consideration will often
suggest the direction in which further improvement must go, if a change
of direction is necessary. Sometimes the only possible improvement
is in an opposite direction. A glance at the accounts of how James
Watt invented the condensing steam-engine will show what a large part
profound study of the old engine and of the laws of steam played in
his invention, and how strongly they suggested the directions of the
solutions of his difficulties.

We now come to the constructive part of inventing, in order to
illustrate which, I will seek to explain how several inventions were,
or could have been, produced.

The way in which the first automatic steam engine was produced was
undoubtedly this--and it shows how comparatively easily a really great
invention may sometimes be made. It was the duty of Humphrey Potter,
a _boy_, to turn a stop-cock to let the steam into the cylinder and
one to let in water to condense it at certain periods of each stroke
of the engine, and if this were not done at the right time, the engine
would stop. He noticed that these movements of the stop-cock handles
took place in unison with the movements of certain portions of the beam
of the engine. He simply connected the valve handles with the proper
portions of the beam by strings, and the engine became automatic--a
most eventful result.

As one example of the evolution of an invention, I will take an
instrument for measuring and recording a period of time, known as the
calculograph, because it lends itself with facility, to an explanation
from a platform and because my duties as a lawyer have necessitated
my becoming very familiar with the invention, and have caused me to
consider how it was probably produced.

And first the problem: There was much occasion to determine and record
the values of periods of elapsed time; such as, the length of time of
a telephone conversation; as the revenue of the telephone companies
depended upon the accuracy of the determination. All the previous
methods involved the recording in hours and minutes the times of day
marking the initial and the final limits of the period to be measured,
and then the subtraction of the one time of day from the other. This
subtraction was found to be very unreliable as well as expensive. The
problem then was to devise some way by which the value of the period
could be arrived at directly and without subtraction and also by which
such value could be mechanically recorded.

The prior machine from which the calculograph was evolved is the
time-stamp, a printing machine having a stationary die like a clock
dial and having a rotating die like the hand of the clock, as in
Fig. 1. The small triangle outside the dial is the hour hand, it being
placed outside the dial because it is necessary that the two hands
shall be at the level of the face of the dial and yet be able to pass
each other. The hour hand may be disregarded here, as the records
needed are almost never an hour long. The manner of using the time
stamp to determine the value of an interval was to stamp the time of
day at the beginning of the period, and then to stamp the time of day
at the close of the period at another place on the paper, as shown in
Fig. 2, and finally mentally to subtract the one time of day from the
other to get the value of the period.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.

Time Stamp Record.]

The inventor of the new machine conceived the idea that, if the
time-stamp were provided with guides or gauges so that the card could
be placed both times in the same position, and the two records of the
time stamp thus be superimposed concentrically (as illustrated in Fig.
3), the value of the period would be represented by the arc marked off
by the initial and final imprints of the minute hand, so that, instead
of subtracting one record from another, he had only to find the value
of the arc marked off by counting the corresponding number of minutes
along the dial.

The inventor had thus gotten rid of the subtraction, but there were
several desirable qualities not yet obtained. First, he could not tell
from the record alone, whether it was the longer or the shorter arc
marked off that was the measure of the period. For instance, he could
not tell whether the period was 7 or 53 minutes. This was because the
two hand or pointer imprints were exactly alike except in position.
So he conceived the idea of making the pointer imprints different in
appearance, by providing the pointer die with a mark in line with the
pointer, as illustrated in Fig. 4.

The mark and pointer revolve together and either the dies or the platen
are so arranged that the mark can be printed without the pointer at the
initial imprint and the pointer at the final imprint as in Fig. 5, the
mark being printed or not at the final imprint, as desired. This could
be done either by allowing the pointer die or the corresponding portion
of the platen to remain retracted from the paper during the first


            9:23           FIG. 2.           10:15
  Initial Time Stamp Record.         Final Time Stamp Record.
            Elapsed Time: 10:15-9:23 = 52 minutes.

To read this record, hours and minutes must be subtracted from hours
and minutes, an operation liable to much error.]

It could thus be told with certainty from the record alone whether
the longer or the shorter arc is the measure of the period, because
the beginning of the arc is that indicated by the imprint of the mark
without the pointer.

There was still something to be desired. The counting of the minutes
along the measuring arc was a waste of time, if the value of the arc
could in some way be directly indicated. If the hand were set back
to 12 o'clock for the initial imprint, the final imprint would show
the hand pointing directly at the minute whose number on the dial is
the value of the period, and it would not even be necessary to count.
But the setting of the hand back to zero would prevent its making
the final imprint of any previously begun record, so that the machine
could only be used for one record at a time. It was desirable to have
a machine that would record any number of overlapping intervals at
the same time, so that one machine would record the intervals of all
the telephone conversations under the control of a single operator,
or rather of two operators, because both of them could reach the
same machine. So it wouldn't do to set the hand back to zero, as the
hand must rotate constantly and uniformly. Then why not set the zero
up to the hand at each initial imprint? This meant making the dial
rotatable, as well as the hand. It gave an initial record like that
shown in Fig. 6.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.

Subtraction eliminated but counting still required and uncertainty
whether elapsed period is 7 or 53 minutes.]

[Illustration: FIG. 4.

Hand and zero mark revolving within stationary dial.]

The inventor then thought of securing the dial to the pointer die so
that they would revolve together, the zero of the dial being in line
with the pointer, as illustrated in Fig. 7. This would obviate the
necessity of setting the zero of the dial up to the pointer at the
initial imprint.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.

Initial imprint of zero mark alone and final imprint of hand (and
zero). Elapsed time, 8 minutes. No subtraction and no uncertainty as to
which imprint first, but counting still required.]

But again the improvement involved a difficulty. As the dial rotated,
its final impressions would never register with its initial impressions
and would therefore always destroy them. As the first imprint of the
dial was the only useful one, and as the second imprint only made
trouble, the inventor conceived the idea of not making any imprint of
the dial at the close of the period, and this he accomplished by making
the annular portion of the platen covering the dial so that it could
be advanced to print or not as desired. As the zero of the dial always
marked the beginning of the measuring arc, it served the same purpose
as the mark in line with the pointer, and the latter could now be

The final machine then consists simply of a revolving die which, as
shown in Fig. 8, consists of a graduated and progressively numbered
dial, having a pointer revolving in line with the zero, and the machine
has a platen consisting of an inner circular portion over the pointer
and an annular portion over the dial, each portion being operated by a
separate handle so that the dial can be printed at the beginning of the
period and the pointer alone, at its close.

The final record has an initial imprint of the dial, Fig. 9a, the
zero of the dial showing the position of the pointer at the beginning
of the period, and a final imprint of the pointer alone, as shown
in Fig. 9b, the complete final record, Fig. 9c, consisting of the
superimposition of these two records, and showing the pointer in line
with that graduation whose number is the value of the period. Here is
a record not only involving no subtraction and no uncertainty but not
even, counting in its record, and, as it was made without disturbing
the motions either of the pointer or dial, any number of records of
other periods could have been begun or finished while the machine was
measuring the period in question.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.

Dial moved up to initial position of zero mark. Elapsed time, 11
minutes. No subtraction, no counting, no uncertainty; but only one
record possible at a time.]

Hiding all the intermediate steps in the evolution of this invention,
it seems the result of spontaneous creation, but considering the
steps in their successive order, it will be seen that the invention
is an evolution from the time-stamp; that logic rendered the effort
of the imagination at any one step small by comparison, and that the
individual steps might be well within the capacity of a person to
whom the spontaneous creation of the final invention might be utterly

A most interesting example of the evolution of an invention is that of
the cord-knotter of the self-binding harvester. The problem here was to
devise a mechanism which would take place of the human hands in tying a
knot in a cord whose ends had mechanically been brought together around
a bundle of grain.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.

Dial with pointer at zero revolving together.]

The first step was to select the knot which could be tied by the
simplest motions. The knot which the inventor selected is that shown in
Fig. 10, and is a form of bow-knot.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.

Dial with pointer at zero revolving together, zero mark on pointer
being replaced by zero of dial.]

The problem was to find how this knot could be tied with the smallest
number of fingers, making the smallest number of simple movements. As
anyone would ordinarily tie even this simple knot, the movements would
be so numerous and complex as to seem impossible of performance by
mechanism. The inventor, by study of his problem, found that this knot
could be tied by the use of only two fingers of one hand, and by very
simple movements. The knot will best be understood by following the
motions of these fingers in tying the knot. Using the first and second
fingers of the right hand, they are first swept outward and backward
in a circular path against the two strands of the cord to be tied, as
shown in Fig. 11.

[Illustration: FIG. 9a.

Initial Imprint.]

[Illustration: FIG. 9b.

Final Imprint.]

[Illustration: FIG. 9c.

Complete Record.

Simple, direct-reading record. No subtraction, no counting, no
uncertainty. Any number of overlapping periods recorded on one

The fingers continue in their circular motion backward, so that the
strands of the cord are wrapped around these fingers, as shown in Fig.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.]

Continuing their circular motion, the fingers approach the strands of
the cord between the twisted portion and a part of the machine which
holds the ends of the cord, and the fingers spread apart as shown
in Fig. 13, so that they can pass over and grasp the strands thus
approached, as shown in Fig. 14.

The fingers then draw back through the loop which has been formed about
them, the fingers holding the grasped portion of the strands, as shown
in Fig. 15.

The knot is finished by the completion of the retracting movement of
the fingers through the loop, thus forming the bow of the knot as shown
in Fig. 16.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.]

The inventor found that one finger could have a purely rotary movement,
as if it were fixed on the arm and unable to move independently of the
arm, and the movement being as if the arm rotated like a shaft, but
the second finger must be further capable of moving toward and from
the first finger to perform the opening movement of Fig. 13, and the
closing movement of Fig. 14 by which it grasps the cord. The inventor
accordingly, from his exhaustive analysis of his problem, and his
invention or discovery of the proper finger motions, had further only
to devise the very simple mechanical device illustrated in Fig. 17 to
replace his fingers.

The index finger of the hand is represented by the finger _S_, which
is integral with the shaft _V_. The second finger of the hand is
represented by the finger _U_, which is pivoted to the first finger by
the pin _s_. The grasping movement of the finger _U_ is accomplished
by a spring _V'_ bearing on the shank _U'_, and its opening movement
is caused by the travel of an anti-friction roll _U"_, on the rear end
of the pivoted finger, over a cam _V"_, on the bearing of the shaft.
The shaft is rotated by the turning of a bevel pinion _W_ on the shaft
through the action of an intermittent gear. The necessity of drawing
the fingers backward to accomplish the movement between Figs. 14 and 16
was avoided by causing the tied bundle to have a motion away from the
fingers as it is expelled from the machine, the relative motion between
the fingers and the knot being the same as if the fingers drew back.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.]

Thus the accomplishment of a seemingly almost impossible function was
rendered mechanically simple by an evolution from the human hand, after
an exhaustive and ingenious analysis of the conditions involved.

It will be seen from the examples I have given that the constructive
part of inventing consists of evolution, and it is the association of
previously known elements in new relations (using the term elements
in its broadest sense). The results of such new association may,
themselves, be treated as elements of the next stage of development,
but in the last analysis nothing is invented or created absolutely out
of nothing.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.]

It must also be apparent, that pure reason and method, while not taking
the place of the inventive faculty, can clear the way for the exercise
of that faculty and very greatly reduce the demands upon it.

Where it is desired to make a broadly new invention on fundamentally
different lines from those before--having first studied the art to find
the results needed, the qualities of the material or other absolutely
controlling conditions should be exhaustively considered; but at the
time of making the inventive effort, the details should be dismissed
from the mind of how results already obtained in the art were gotten.
One should endeavor to conceive how he would accomplish the desired
result if he were attempting the problem before any one else had ever
solved it. In other words, he should endeavor to provide himself with
the idea elements on which the imagination will operate, but to dismiss
from his mind as much as possible the old ways in which these elements
have been associated, and thus leave his imagination free to associate
them in original and, as to be hoped, better relations than before.
He should invent all the means he can possibly invent to accomplish
the desired result, and should then, before experimenting, go to the
art to see whether or not these means have before been invented. He
would probably find that some of the elements, at least, have been
better worked out than he has worked them out. Of course, mechanical
dictionaries, and other sources of mechanical elements and movements
will be found useful in arriving at means for accomplishing certain of
the motions, if the invention be a machine. Many important inventions
have been made by persons whose occupation is wholly disconnected
with the art in which they are inventing, because their minds were
not prejudiced by what had already been done. While such an effort is
likely to possess more originality than that on the part of a person in
the art, there is, of course, less probability of its being thoroughly
practical. The mind well stored with the old ways of solving the
problem will, of course, be less likely to repeat any of the mistakes
of the earlier inventors, but it will also not be as apt to strike
out on distinctly original lines. It is so full, already, of the old
forms of association of the elements as to be less likely to think of
associating them in broadly new relations.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.]

[Illustration: FIG. 15.]

[Illustration: FIG. 16.]

Nothing should be considered impossible until it has been conclusively
worked out or tried by experiments which leave no room for doubt.
It is no sufficient reason for believing a thing won't work because
immemorial tradition, or those skilled in the art, say it will
not work. Many an important improvement has been condemned as
impracticable, by those in the art, before it has been tried.

A conception which an inventor has been striving for unsuccessfully
will sometimes come to him at a time of unaccustomed mental
stimulation. The slight stimulation of the movement of a train of cars,
and the sound of music, have been known to produce this effect. The
sub-conscious mind, after having been prepared by a full consideration
of the problem to be solved, will sometimes solve the problem without
conscious effort, on the part of the inventor.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.

The essential parts of the cord-knotter.]

In inventing a machine to operate upon any given material, the logical
way is to work from the tool to the power. The tool or tools should
first be invented, and the motions determined which are to be given
to them. The proper gearing or parts to produce from the power each
motion for each tool should then be invented. It should then be
considered if parts of each train of gearing cannot be combined, so
as to make one part do the work of a part in each train; in short,
to reduce the machine to its lowest terms. Occasionally a mechanism
will be invented which is exceedingly ingenious, but which it is
afterwards seen how to simplify, greatly at the expense of its apparent
ingenuity. This simplification will be at the sacrifice of the pride
of the inventor, but such considerations as cheapness, durability and
certainty of action leave no choice in the matter. It will sometimes
be found that a single part can be made to actuate several parts, by
the interposition of elements which reverse the motion taken from such
part, or which take only a component of the motion of such part, or
the resultant of the motion of such part and some other part. Where a
machine involves the conjoint action of several forces, it can be more
thoroughly studied, if it is found there are positions of the machine
in which one force or motion only is in operation, the effect of the
others in such position being eliminated, and thus the elements making
up the resultant effect can be intelligently controlled.

The drawing board can be made a great source of economy in producing
inventions. If the three principal views of all the essentially
different positions of the parts of a machine are drawn, it will
often be found that defects will be brought to light which would not
otherwise have been observed until the machine was put into the metal.

It is desirable to see the whole invention clearly in the mind before
beginning to draw, but if that cannot be done, it is often of great
assistance to draw what can be seen, and the clearer perception given
by the study of the parts already drawn, assists the mind in the
conception of the remaining parts.

If the improvement which it is sought to make is a process, it should
first be considered whether any radically different process can be
conceived of, and if so, whether or not it is better than the old
process, and the reason for its defects, and whether it is possible
to cure those defects. If the old process appears to be in the right
general direction, it should be considered whether one of the old steps
cannot with advantage be replaced by a new one, or whether the order of
performing the steps cannot be changed to advantage. I have in mind one
process in which a reversal of the order of steps resulted in giving
the product certain desirable qualities which had before been sought
for, but could not be obtained.

It is sometimes desirable not only to invent a good process of
producing a product, but to control all feasible processes of producing
the product. Such a case occurred where the product itself had been
patented, and it was desirable to extend the monopoly beyond the time
when the patent on the product should expire. There were two steps or
operations which were essential to the production of the product, and
the inventor, by reference to permutations, saw that there were but
three orders in which those steps could be performed; first, the order
A-B, then the order B-A, and then both steps together. The order A-B
was the old order, which did not produce an article having the desired
qualities. The inventor therefore, proceeded to invent ways by which
the steps could be performed together, and then by which they could be
performed in the reverse order, and the patenting such two processes
would cover generically all possible ways of making the article and
secure the desired result of putting himself in position to control the
monopoly after the patent on the article had expired, because no one
could make the article without using one of his two processes.

In inventing compositions of matter there is one inventor who, if he
is seeking for a certain result, will take a chemical dictionary and
make every possible combination of every substance that could by any
possibility be an ingredient of that which he desires to produce. It is
as if he were seeking to locate a vein of mineral in a given territory,
and, instead of observing the geographical and geological formation,
and thus seeking to arrive at the most probable location of the vein,
he should dig up every foot of earth throughout the whole territory,
in order finally to locate the vein. This method is exceedingly
exhaustive, but does not appeal to one as involving much exercise of
the inventive faculties.

Inventing has become so much of a science, that if one is willing
to spend sufficient time and money to enable a competent corps of
inventors to go at the matter exhaustively, almost any possible
invention involving but a reasonable advance in the art can be

Transciber's Notes:

Punctuation errors repaired.

The second copyright notice before the text begins has been changed
from 1903 to 1906 to match the first notice on the title page.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Art of Inventing" ***

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