For the fifth year in a row, computer maker IBM has earned more U.S. patents than any other organization. Of the 120,000 utility patents the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued last year, 1,724 went to IBM inventors. The company says more than 500 of the inventions are already in products. Among them: U.S. Patent 5,675,329, which doubles the usefulness of each computer keyboard key depending on how hard the key is struck. Force sensors attached to the keys can differentiate between a normal level of force and a greater force, performing two different functions with each different depression. Behind IBM in the number of patents received in 1997 are Canon with 1,378, NEC with 1,095, Motorola with 1,058, and the U.S. government with 923.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.