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I've always gotten this impression from reading books and in history

  1. Mar 23, 2012 #1
    I've always gotten this impression from reading books and in history that a hundred or so years ago there were these guys that through their great inventions (especially later in the Ind. revolution?) that became socially accepted and revered as "inventors" and it was a pretty big deal and people held that pretty highly.. now it seems like if anyone is an "inventor" it means they are living in the clouds and they waist all their money on useless patents...
    Does anyone else get that Vibe?
    Also, any of you out there a social/friend/wife/self-proclaimed inventor?
    it makes me sad.. we don't make things other than disk drives and we sit in offices?

    ..my dream me would be rallying around in my STI running my own business where I design the world's best _______.
    is Anyone! in the same boat as me?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2012 #2

    Danger

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    Welcome to PF, RK.
    I am a self-proclaimed inventor, by virtue of the fact that I have invented stuff. Someone who has not done so is still an inventor, even if his only invention was the tale of being an inventor. I have never profited from an invention, nor even patented one, but that doesn't detract from the feeling of accomplishment that comes from solving a mechanical problem in a peculiar way. Most of my stuff is illegal (weapons), and some are just not worth pursuing because of limited marketability. I still constantly kick myself because when I was 10 years old I thought that the electric spaghetti fork that I designed was far too stupid to do anything about. A couple of years later some twerp in California put it on the market and raked in a fortune. :rolleyes: Now, I have a couple that would be guaranteed money-makers, but the designs would require external assistance with things that I am not good at such as electronics and nanoscale mechanics. I find it more satisfying and a lot less stressful to just build something as I need it. Plus, that makes me more creative because whatever I need has to be built out of stuff that I already have. (Although I do grudgingly admit, in retrospect, that a cat is not a suitable component for a homemade microwave oven.)
     
  4. Mar 23, 2012 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    No doubt inventing has always been a dubious game. As you mentioned, there are a lot of useless patents. So it is probably true that most inventors have been chasing rainbows all along. There is also a difference between "inventing" something like a better hot dog grill, and developing a new product or process through R&D. The truth is that there are a lot of inventors creating new products every day. Most of them work for large companies. I too love innovation and invention, but after a few knocks I also recognized the odds against success as a lone ranger. The fact is that by far, most serious inventors go broke or at least never achieve success [again, this has probably always been true]. So now I work as a contractor and get paid to help other companies develop new products and processes. I'm not going to be getting any seven-figure paychecks this way [at least not all at once], but I do get a paycheck for doing what I love to do. I probably get to spend about 10-20% of my time doing purely creative work - pure invention. The other 80-90% of my time is dedicated to perspiration. :biggrin:

    Also, a lot of people seem to confuse "I'm an idea guy" with "I'm an inventor". The truth is that new ideas are dime a dozen. R&D and marketing is where the rubber hits the road.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  5. Mar 23, 2012 #4

    russ_watters

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    The "inventors" that are looked down on are those who haven't invented anything. You're not an inventor unless you've invented something.
     
  6. Mar 23, 2012 #5

    Evo

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    I have a frined that is a successful inventor for a large company, he holds many US patents. It would be safe to say that many members of this forum have used something he invented at least part of.

    There is a difference between coming up with ideas that won't work/won't sell, and making something useful that sells. Of course it is natural to remember the successes and in some cases the huge failures.

    So I disagree with you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  7. Mar 23, 2012 #6

    jtbell

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    Speaking of inventors... http://coffee.news.ubuycoffee.com/2012/03/23/mr-coffee-co-inventor-dies/ [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Mar 23, 2012 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    I would add "sold something", "successfully marketed something", or "had your product design stolen and sold", to that. There are plenty of useless patents and inventions that never go anywhere or bring fame to their inventors. Many are just crackpot ideas that never had a chance.
     
  9. Mar 23, 2012 #8
    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    Perhaps running a technology startup is something for you. Aside from the R&D departments and the stuff everyone else's already mentioned, a startup is where real inventing takes place. :smile:
     
  10. Mar 23, 2012 #9

    Danger

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    I disagree with that because of personal experience. To start with, there is no rule stating that something has to be "useful" in order to be an invention; it just has to have not existed before. A short-story or even a post on PF is an invention, regardless of the fact that it might exist only as ink or a series of binary states. We all have a lot of those under our belts.
    In the case of my more physical pursuits, I designed and built equipment to make my job easier. My ex-employer still has them. When I mentioned the one that I had in mind (the first one which would require an electronics dude), he said that if it were on the market he would pay up to $10,000 to have one. To me, that implies that it would be marketable. Within a few hours of that first thought, I came up with another one that would make the first utterly obsolete. That's the one that needs a nano-tech engineer to help with. I know what needs to be done, and have a few different ideas of how to achieve it, but have no method of working on it. That doesn't mean that I didn't invent the thing; it's merely that some details require expertise that I don't possess. As an example, let's say that automatic transmissions didn't exist and had never been thought of. I have an "aha" moment, and design one to the best of my ability, but don't know much about hydraulics. Does it mean that it isn't my invention if I have to bring in a fluidicist (or whatever they're called) to work out the valving, passages, and pump requirements?
     
  11. Mar 23, 2012 #10

    russ_watters

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    Re: self-proclaimed-INVENTOR!

    Agreed, though I prefer just the "useful" qualifier. There are inventions that are cool/useful that aren't marketable and I don't think that detracts much from the romantic notion of an "inventor".
     
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