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Slashback: Franklin, Head-Mounting, Timing 202

Posted by timothy
from the eligible-bachelor dept.
Slashback tonight with more on clockless computing; Benjamin Franklin on patents (!); and early notice to evacuate Zurich in advance of the ISWC Borg. (Read more below.)

I've broken two Timexes this month, this is just old hat now. Pete Brubaker writes: "A few days ago this story was posted to /. pointing to a NYTimes article about Sun's new asynchronous processor. The article, though informative, lacked detail. EE Times comes through and discusses this technology in quite a bit more detail."

If it won't fit in your overhead bin, it probably isn't wearable. If you were intrigued by the wearable computers mentioned in October, you can thankjoeboy4h for pointing out that "the 5th International Symposium on Wearable Computers will be in Zurich this October. Aside from being an excellent academic conference this is also the ultimate hack fest; lots of cool people all interested in hacking both hardware and software, most wearing their wearables, and some really incredible presentations. The call for papers is out now; it would be an excellent place for slashdoters to strut their stuff."

I hope they can webcast a stroll in the Alps with a well-outfitted wearables party ... now that would be a Linuxbierwanderung.

But for the record, would you say you're a "real American," Mr. Franklin? Ovidius writes "Need a historical precedent to argue in favor of open source and against the rash of insane technology patents? Tell people how Ben Franklin valued innovation over profits--in 1742 he not only published the details of his newly conceived Franklin Stove, but refused a patent on it on the principle that "as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

Even when a London entrepreneur took out a patent on a poorly modified version of his stove, Franklin still did not pursue the matter, though maybe he would have if he had known where the use of patents in business would be headed 250 or so years later. The account is from chapter 10 of his Autobiography (which is available at the esteemed Project Gutenberg) :

In order of time, I should have mentioned before, that having, in 1742, invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel, as the fresh air admitted was warmed in entering, I made a present of the model to Mr. Robert Grace, one of my early friends, who, having an iron-furnace, found the casting of the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in demand.
To promote that demand, I wrote and published a pamphlet, entitled "An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces; wherein their Construction and Manner of Operation is particularly explained; their Advantages above every other Method of warming Rooms demonstrated; and all Objections that have been raised against the Use of them answered and obviated," etc.
This pamphlet had a good effect. Gov'r. Thomas was so pleas'd with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin'd it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
An ironmonger in London however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, and making some small changes in the machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it. And this is not the only instance of patents taken out for my inventions by others, tho' not always with the same success, which I never contested, as having no desire of profiting by patents myself, and hating disputes. The use of these fireplaces in very many houses, both of this and the neighbouring colonies, has been, and is, a great saving of wood to the inhabitants.

So who is more American, Ben Franklin or Bill Gates?"

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