Extra Talents

Some time ago, I performed some software consultancy for the European Patents Office. As a prerequisite, I needed to find out some of the basic facts about patents. Obviously, my educator had to use examples. Some of the examples were well chosen for interest, and highlighted to me that many people who are well known for one thing, have had useful ideas about other fields.

Typical examples of this are:

  • The Russian dancer, Nijinksy, was the inventor of the windscreen wiper
  • Physicist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat-flap
  • Charles Babbage, originator of much of the theory of computing, apparently invented the speedometer.

I was quite pleased to have been involved in the development of a patent for spam prevention and when I was discussing this with a friend of mine, he asked me if I knew who holds the patent the handheld computer game. When I said I didn’t know he replied that the inventor was his father. Given the mixed views that people have of these devices, I’ve decided it's best to keep him anonymous.