Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

There's a story in the Daily Oklahoman today about all the things Oklahomans have invented. I've heard many of these before, but they claim an Oklahoma invented the personal computer, I've never heard of that before, and I don't know if I believe it. Anyway, here are some highlights from the article.

More than 18,000 patents have been awarded to Oklahoma residents and companies since 1975. The U.S. Patent Office has awarded more than 1,700 patents to Oklahomans in the past two years.

The shopping cart, personal computer, parking meter, auto-pilot, car sun visor, glove compartment and the compact disc changer were all invented by Oklahomans. The number of innovations grows by hundreds each year with recent additions such as the brick mailbox "flip-flag," the automatic garage door timer and cutting edge computer software.

While many people aren't aware of the Sooner State's contribution, the long list of inventions shouldn't be a surprise. After all, Oklahomans can fix almost anything with a roll of baling wire, crazy glue, and duct tape.

The First patent awarded to anyone living in what would become Oklahoma -- that historians have been able to find -- was in 1880, when the area was still Indian Territory. It was filed Dec. 11, 1880, and awarded to Charles Hutchins of Fort Gibson and James Standly of Toboxie County, Choctaw Territory. The patent was for a Hame-Fastener, which is a piece of equipment used with draft horses.

The first patent issued to an Oklahoma Territory resident was filed Aug. 6, 1889, by Gordon Keeney of Kingfisher. The patent was for a "Fender for Wheeled Vehicles." In this case, the wheel was on a wagon, not an automobile.

Hutchins, Standly and Keeney have since been followed by problem-solving Oklahomans whose inventions typically come from personal need.

Sylvan Goldman, who came to Oklahoma during the first land run, designed and manufactured the shopping cart to give customers at his grocery stores a larger basket to carry more food.

Aviator Wiley Post designed the world's first pressurized flying suit so he could fly at a higher altitude and take advantage of the faster wind that became known as the jet stream.

Carl Magee, a member of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce at the time, thought of and helped design the parking meter to ease the growing parking problems downtown.

Edward Roberts, now recognized as the father of the personal computer, designed the desktop machine because he needed a product that would save his calculator business from going under. He based his idea on a policy at Oklahoma State University, where he was a student, that allowed people access to the mainframe computer. His invention drew offers from hundreds of software designers trying to break into the business. Roberts and his partners at Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems were so overwhelmed by the offers, they decided to work with the first person who showed up with operating software. The first fledgling designer to make the trip was a young man named Bill Gates. Robert went on to help design the laptop computer while at Pertec, but left the company to become a small-town doctor in Georgia after Pertec executives said they didn't foresee any potential for the new laptop design.

Ok, that's all of the article that's worth typing up.