The Patent System

Saturday, November 28, 1936, 8:00-8:30 P. M., E. S. T.

Cue: Columbia Broadcasting System -- 30 seconds.

(One thousand cycle tone.)

ANNOUNCER. The Columbia Workshop under the direction of Irving Reis!

(Organ in full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. High up on a building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, 
immortalized in granite, are these words:

(Organ alone, for a second.)

VOICE OF INSCRIPTION. "Based upon foundations of devotion and labor, the 
United States is enriched by other golden threads in the genius of its people. 
Inventive daring illumines their diligence. Adventurous ardor invigorates the 
work of their hands. Under governmental guardianship their ideas and their 
activities are assured the liberty that is the soul of achievement."

(Organ up, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. Such is the inscription on the Patent Office Building, to which 
Abraham Lincoln added these words:

LINCOLN. "The Patent System added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius."

(Organ up, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. The American Patent System is perhaps the strongest single bulwark 
of democratic government. Under its protection and encouragement, inventive 
genius flourished, and made of a small struggling nation the greatest 
industrial power in the history of the world.

It is significant that while democratic government is on trial among other 
nations of the world, they move to the measure of American genius in their 
airplanes, telephones, radios and ten thousand other contributions to mankind, 
which took birth under the first system of its kind, almost simultaneously 
with the founding of the United States. 

Because of the importance of the American Patent System to civilization, the 
Columbia Workshop is proud to dedicate this program to the one-hundredth 
anniversary celebration of the United States Patent Office.

(Organ in full, then down to back.)

NARRATOR. Let us turn back the pages of history to Venice in 1594. In the hall 
of the Doge, a young man fingers a petition nervously, while a group of nobles 

(Ad libs.)

DOGE. Very well, I am ready, speak up young man--

GALILEO (nervously). If it please your highness -- I have prepared a paper.

DOGE. Then read it quickly.

GALILEO. Yes, Your Highness [pause]. Your humble servant has invented a 
machine for raising water and irrigating land at small expense and great 
convenience. It seems not fit that this invention, which is my own, discovered 
by me with great labor and much expense, be made the common property of 
everybody. I humbly petition Your Serene Highness that you deign to favor me 
with the right so that no one but myself or my heirs be allowed to make this 
new instrument. By reason of your benignity thereof, I shall more attentively 
apply myself to new inventions for universal benefit. [Coughs to signalize 

DOGE. Yes! Go on!

GALILEO. That is all, my lord.

DOGE. You believe then that if I grant this right you will apply yourself to 
other beneficial inventions?

GALILEO. Yes, Your Highness.

DOGE. Very well -- clerk!

CLERK. Your Highness--

DOGE. Cause to be entered that from this day on for twenty years no other man 
shall have the right to make this machine.

CLERK. Yes, Your Highness. (To Galileo) Your name?

GALILEO. Galile Galileo.

(Organ full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. Of the fruits of Galileo's promise, "I shall more attentively apply 
myself to new inventions for universal benefit", the world has been long 
aware. Thus was a young man, destined to be one of the world's greatest 
scientific minds, encouraged by the Doge of Venice. But such was not the case 
with other all-powerful nobles, or in other countries, and such great abuses 
existed under governments in which one person had the power to create or 
destroy inventor's rights, based on whim or favor, that few were encouraged to 
devote their energies toward invention.

It is of everlasting tribute to the founding fathers of the new Nation of the 
United States of America that in spite of all the weighty matters occupying 
the Constitutional convention in 1787 their wisdom and foresight caused to be 
included as Section 8, Article 1, of the Constitution of the United States of 

VOICE. The Congress shall have the power to promote the progress of science 
and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the 
exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

(Organ in, up full, down full.)

NARRATOR. The first patent act passed by the Federal Government was enacted on 
April 10, 1790, a little over a year after the founding of the new government. 
The members of the first board were Henry Knox, Edmund Randolph, and Thomas 
Jefferson. As the guiding light of the first Patent Board, Jefferson, although 
an inventor of some fifteen useful devices himself, one of which won him a 
decoration from France, opposed permanent rights or monopolies for inventors, 
in favor of allowing their use for the greater good of mankind. (Organ in 
low.) Speaking before the first Patent Board in 1790 he said:

(Organ up, then down behind.)

JEFFERSON. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself 
without lessening mine, as he who lights a taper at mine, received light 
without darkening mine. That ideas should freely spread from one to another 
over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement 
of his conditions, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by 

(Organ up, then down.)

NARRATOR. The exclusive rights to an invention were fixed at fourteen years.

(Organ out.)

NARRATOR. Almost as a reward for our founding fathers' vision, the fates 
smiled on the small struggling agricultural nation, not two years later, when 
a young student named Eli Whitney, fresh out of Yale, left for Savannah, 
Georgia, to visit the cotton plantation of his friend, Mrs. Nathaniel Greene.

(Negro spiritual starts in background.)

NARRATOR (continued). It's an afternoon in the summer of 1792. Young Whitney, 
who has shown a marked aptitude for mechanical design, watches a group of 
negroes, in the shed of the plantation.

(Spiritual up full, then down slightly. Sounds of negroes picking seeds, 
occasional dropping of baskets, etc.)

MRS. GREENE. This is Mr. Stiles, Mr. Whitney, my overseer.

WHITNEY. How do you do, Mr. Stiles. [Pause.] Your men work hard.

STILES. Yes, seeding cotton takes a long time, and we've got shipments to make 

WHITNEY. Do they have to pick each seed out of the cotton ball by hand?


WHITNEY. It seems there should be some easier way of doing it.

STILES. It's hardly possible, a machine would damage the tender fibers.

MRS. GREENE (lightly). I'll wager Mr. Whitney could make a machine that would 
-- he's made some very clever things for me.

STILES. He would earn the gratitude of the whole south--

WHITNEY. It might be done.

MRS. GREENE (laughing). Oh no, Eli, you're here for a vacation, I won't have 
you worrying about cotton.

WHITNEY (almost to himself). Why a machine could do all that work in an hour 
-- by George, I will do it!

(Organ in full, then down.)

NARRATOR. The back-breaking burden of the negro slaves preyed on the mind of 
Eli Whitney. In five weeks, he carried a strange looking spiked roller into 
the shed.

(Organ out. Another Negro work song in background.)

STILES. Hello, Mr. Whitney.

WHITNEY. Hello, Mr. Stiles, could I interrupt your work for a few moments?

STILES. Yes, sure. (To men.) All right boys, take a rest (ad libs of "Yassuh", 
etc., singing stops). What's that you've got there, Mr. Whitney?

WHITNEY. That's a cotton gin, Mr. Stiles. I think it may work. May I set it 

STILES. Sure [machine down].

WHITNEY. Now, can you have one of the slaves bring me a basket of cotton 

STILES. Well, are you sure Mrs. Greene won't mind? Cotton's pretty expensive, 
and those spikes will ruin it.

WHITNEY. I'm sure Mrs. Greene won't mind; just a handful will do.

STILES. All right [bends down]. This enough? 

WHITNEY. Yes, just put it under the wheel; there that's it [clank of wheel]. 
Now I'll just turn this handle [revolving of drum].

STILES. What happens now?

WHITNEY. It should come out here -- there, here's a ball of it.

STILES. May I see it-- Great day! You've done it, Mr. Whitney. There isn't a 
single seed left!

(Organ in full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. The three revolutions of the wheel of the first cotton gin spelled 
the end of one era and the beginning of another which was to see a land with 
some few thousand acres of cotton under cultivation spread to millions of 
acres of the billowy white plant, and the growth of the south to the most 
important agricultural section in the world.

(Organ up, then down behind.)

NARRATOR (continued). The rapid growth of the nation soon made obsolete the 
Patent Laws of 1790 and the subsequent laws of 1793. In 1836, one hundred 
years ago, Senator John Ruggles introduced a new Patent Law, which established 
the present Patent System as a model for the world to follow. That year truly 
saw the birth of American industrial supremacy. Of the some two million 
inventions America has since given the world, the Columbia Workshop is proud 
to help share in the centennial celebration by reviewing the story behind some 
of the outstanding contributions of American Scientific Genius.

(Organ up full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. The top floor of a boarding house at 5 Exeter Place, Boston, on a 
night in March 1876.

(Organ out. The clinking of a light metal hammer against metal.)

WATSON. Mr. Bell, if Mrs. Hewitt hears this we'll be thrown out, apparatus and 
all; we'd better go to bed and start again early tomorrow. [Pause, some more 

BELL (completely oblivious). Huh, what?

WATSON. Oh! nothing.

BELL. [Clink] There, that little thumb screw will hold [almost muttering to 
himself]. If I could only stretch that diaphragm a bit tighter [a heavy bang 
of a battery dropping to the floor]. Uh! Confound that hammer!

WATSON. There goes our room and board!

BELL. Why?

WATSON. Mrs. Hewitt has complained three times this week about the noise. 
[Footsteps outside.] Here she comes now.

BELL. I'll run into the front room, hook up that old battery and make the 
adjustments. I'll fix the transmitter in there. [Going off.] We can make a 
test after you get rid of her. [Door open, close.]

WATSON. After I-- [knock on door]. Come in. [Door opens.] Ah, good evening, 
Mrs. Hewitt, please come in. [Door close.]

MRS. HEWITT. It is not evening, Mr. Watson, it is night; you and your friend 
will have to stop the noise.

WATSON. Yes, Mrs. Hewitt, we'll——

MRS. HEWITT. And if you keep burning the gas this late I'll have to increase 
your rent.

WATSON. Of course.

MRS. HEWITT. And the way you've littered this room with all those wires-- what 
are you men doing!

WATSON. Mrs. Hewitt, Mr. Bell is a great man. Someday maybe the world will 
remember this house because of these wires. Some day the world will be able to 
talk through these wires.

MRS. HEWITT. Mr. Watson, you've been drinking.

WATSON (taps a battery, little clink of metal). No, people will be able to 
hear through it, for blocks, maybe all the way from Boston to New York! 
[Pause.] Will you hold this wire please, I've got to tighten this connection.

MRS. HEWITT. All right, but why can't your friend hold it?

WATSON. Mr. Bell is in the front room making the connections.

MRS. HEWITT (gasps). Oh! The wire is alive! It bit me!

WATSON. I'm sorry, it was an accident. Mr. Bell must have opened the circuit. 
I wonder why he--

BELL (on filter). Mr. Watson! Mr. Watson! come here, I want you!

MRS. HEWITT. That's Mr. Bell's voice, I thought he was in the front room.

WATSON. Shhhh! Listen!

BELL (filter). Mr. Watson! Come here quickly!

WATSON. He is in the front room! [Shouting and running.] We've got it!
Alexander, we've got it!

(Organ in full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. If the Gods of Accident and Chance smiled that day when Mr. Watson 
said "maybe all the way from Boston to New York", it was only because they 
alone could peek into the future of Alexander Graham Bell's great discovery. 
The telephone became an integral part of American life. Boston was chosen for 
the first long-distance line. As a culmination of ten years of experiment, a 
group of distinguished persons group around a shiny new telephone.

(Music out.)

ENGINEER. I think they're ready in New York, Mr. Vail.

VAIL. Oh fine. [Sotto.] What do I do?

ENGINEER. Just hold this to your mouth; that's it; now you listen here.

VAIL. Yes; thank you.

ENGINEER. Are you ready?

VAIL (solemnly). Yes.

ENGINEER. I'll ring them. [Magneto bell ring.]

VOICE (filtered, strained, distant). Hello, this is New York.

VAIL (shouting). This is Edward J. Vail. Speak a little louder please!

VOICE (screaming in distance). How is it up there in Boston?

VAIL (shouting). It's fine up here in Boston. I can hear you very plainly. How 
is it down in New York?

VOICE. I can hear you plainly, too; it's fine in New York.

VAIL. Good! The first New York to Boston telephone line is a success. I 
predict that one day people will be able to talk as far as from New York to 

(Organ in full, then down for.)

GIRL (dial sounds). Hello.

OPERATOR. Overseas operator.

GIRL. This is Wickersham 2-2000. I wish to speak to Mr. Harold Geer, in 
Shanghai, China, Mr. James Brewster in New York calling.

OPERATOR. New York calling Shanghai, China. One moment, please. [Click.]

(Organ up full, then down.)

MAN. Yes, operator; I want to talk to Mrs. Franklin Harris, on board the 
Aquitania, they're about 1,200 miles at sea now.

OPERATOR (filtered). The Aquitania; one moment, please.

(Music up full, then down.)

OPERATOR. This is Long Distance.

GIRL. Operator, this is the Amalgamated Smelting Co.; please cross-connect our 
offices in Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Baltimore, and Tampa for a conference 

OPERATOR. Just a moment, please.

(Organ up full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. So the few feet of wire which carried the first words of Alexander 
Graham Bell accidentally, after he had spilled some acid and called for his 
assistant, spread into a network of 150 million miles of lines over five 
continents, carrying 69 million calls a day. But if the first words carried 
over a line were strange, stranger words still signallized another historic 
milestone in American invention less than a year later. It is the laboratory 
of a young scientist in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

(Music out.)

EDISON. Hold this cross bar, Weaver.

WEAVER. Yes, sir.

EDISON. Now, when I say "ready"--

KREUSI. Tom, will you stop being mysterious and tell us just what that strange 
thing is?

EDISON. This machine will talk, Kreusi. [Walks off.] Where did I put that 

CARMAN (sotto). The chief's going balmy.

KREUSI. Let's gang up on him for a bet.

CARMAN (pleased). Good -- good idea.

EDISON (walking in). What are you plotting with my bookkeeper, Kreusi?

KREUSI. Nothing, Tom; we were just talking about this machine; you say it will 


KREUSI. I'll bet $2 it won't.

CARMAN. I'll put up a handful of cigars; expensive ones too; cost a dime each.

EDISON. I haven't got a dollar, Kreusi, but I'll put up a barrel of apples.

KREUSI. Done! I'll split them with you, Carman.

CARMAN. Well, those are good cigars; half a barrel isn't--

EDISON. All right, Weaver; I want you to turn this crank evenly like this. 
[Scratch of needle against revolving cylinder.]

WEAVER. Yes, sir.

EDISON. And try to keep the revolutions uniform, about one a second.

WEAVER. Right.

EDISON. I'll have to bend close to the mouthpiece. Are you ready?

WEAVER. Yes; but what will you say?

EDISON. Hmmm; I hadn't though of that; let me see. [Pause.] I've got it. 
Ready, Weaver. Turn! [Scratch of needle against cylinder. Loud but slowly.] 
MARY --- HAD --- A --- LITTLE --- LAMB --- ITS --- FLEECE --- WAS --- WHITE 
--- AS --- SNOW --- AND --- EVERYWHERE --- THAT --- MARY --- WENT --- THE --- 
LAMB --- WAS --- SURE --- TO --- GO ---. All right, Weaver, that's enough. 
[Scratch stops.]

KREUSI. Are those Macintosh apples, Tom, or Rome Beauties?

CARMAN. Yes; and you'll have to transport them to our homes, Tom.

EDISON. We'll use the $2 to buy more tinfoil, Weaver; just throw the cigars 
out [the others laugh]. Now we'll set the needle back. [Click.] Now, when I 
signal, turn the crank at the same speed. Would you like to listen, Mr. 
Kreusi? and you can too, Carman.

BOTH. Yes; sure.

EDISON. Hold this to your ear. All ready, Weaver, turn.

MACHINE. Scratch of noisy track; little bursts of static; clicks; then heavily 
filtered and distant: MARY --- HAD --- A --- LITTLE --- LAMB --- ITS --- 
FLEECE --- WAS --- WHITE --- AS --- SNOW --- AND --- EVERYWHERE --- THAT --- 
MARY --- WENT --- THE --- LAMB --- WAS --- SURE --- TO --- GO --- [very 
feebly]. All right Weaver, that's enough.

WEAVER. It works, Mr. Edison! It works!

(Organ in full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. Thus, with the words of a nursery rhyme, man's voice was first 
captured and imprisoned on a sheet of tinfoil. In a few years Edison's little 
black cylinders were destined to spread over the land, carrying on their waxed 
surfaces the music of the times. In cook wagons on the great plains, in the 
farmhouses of the first settlers, and in the new brownstone mansions on Fifth 
Avenue, people listened with awe to the tinny-sounding machine. From its 
humble beginning, like all great inventions, it inspired a host of other 
inventions, culminating with the sound movie. Edison's phonograph was given a 
number, took its place beside the telephone in the records of the Patent 

(Organ music in full.)

LEONARDO DA VINCI. Lacking the power to fly, man must furnish his own as the 
birds do. What is a bird, Giovianni, but a machine governed by mechanical 
laws. [Intensely.] Let me discover those laws, and I shall construct a machine 
that man can fly.

(Organ up full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. So 400 years ago, spoke Leonardo da Vinci, artist, scientist, 
inventor, engineer, to his assistant Giovianni. But great genius that he was, 
even da Vinci was not the first man to dream of flight, or fail in its 
realization. Since Ovid sang of Daedalus and his son Icarus, 2,000 years ago 
in Ancient Rome, man has yearned to conquer space with wings. But like the 
mythical Icarus, who sought to fly to the sun, only to have the irate gods 
melt his wings and plunge him to his doom, man had been rebuked for centuries 
for attempting to soar. 

(Music out.)

NARRATOR (continuing). It is a far cry from the songs of Ovid in Ancient Rome, 
and the dreams of da Vinci of Florence 400 years ago, to a bicycle repair shop 
in Dayton, Ohio, in 1902, where two brothers talk while working:

(Hammering on metal.)

ORVILLE. Father's coming down the street, Wilbur. Is his bike ready?

WILBUR. Yup, just finished.

ORVILLE. Katherine's with him.


(Little door bell rings as door opens.)

ORVILLE-WILBUR. Hello father. Hello Katherine.


FATHER. Hello boys.

ORVILLE. Your bicycle's finished, father.

FATHER. I didn't come about that, boys.

WILBUR. Anything wrong?

FATHER. Boys you'll have to stop those glider flights; you've been 
disappointing the village undertaker for months.

KATHERINE. They couldn't stop now, father.

ORVILLE. No, it's too late to quit.

FATHER. Your business is going to pieces; you're the laughing stock of the 
whole town; and you'll both break your necks before you finish.

KATHERINE. Please, father.

FATHER. You've already flown the glider; you've found out it stays up; what 
are you after now?

WILBUR. Power!

ORVILLE. Yes, dad; we can't depend on winds any more; we've got to give our 
bird a heart, so that it can fly itself.

FATHER (interested). But there isn't an engine in the country light enough to 
lift it's own weight off the ground, Orville!

ORVILLE. Then we'll make one.

FATHER. Do you really think you can?

WILBUR. Yes, father; it's going to be hard; it will take time and patience but 
we've gone this far and we're going to see it through!

(Organ in full, then down behind.)

NARRATOR. Unknown and unsung for their years of patient unremitting toil in 
perfecting the glider, the Wright Brothers with grim persistence tackled the 
most difficult problem of all; an engine to take their glider off the ground.

(Wind in.)

NARRATOR (continued). Kitty Hawk, S. C., morning of December 17, 1903. A 
knife-edged wind blows across the bleak sand dunes. A handful of Kitty Hawk's 
citizens, including the local newspaperman, half-frozen, watch two men work 
with ebbing curiosity.

(Wind up, then down.)

WILBUR. Pull that brace tight, Orville. [Twang of wire.]

ORVILLE. How's that?


ORVILLE. Wind's dying a bit, Wil. How about giving her a trial?

WILBUR. If you say so, sure. We've got to get the machine on the track though.

ORVILLE. Maybe some of these fellows will help. [Calling.] Will you lend a 
hand here fellows? [They ad lib assent from off mike.]

WARD. Sure. [Walking in.] What do you want us to do?

ORVILLE. We want to lift this machine on the track.

WILBUR. It weighs 750 pounds; but, if the seven of us help, it shouldn't be 

BRINKLEY. Is that all; heck I can lift it myself. [They all laugh.]

WARD. Say when.

WILBUR. All right. All together now. Lift. [Grunts from all.] Good; ease her 
down now. [Sound of heavy body being set down.]

ORVILLE. Thanks very much, boys. [They ad lib okays, etc.] All right, Wilbur, 
strap yourself in.

WILBUR. No, no, Orville. We tossed a coin 4 days ago.

ORVILLE. But, you won then, Wil.

WILBUR. Well, I had my chance, but that restraining wire slipped.

ORVILLE. I know; and you didn't go up; so, it's still your chance.

WILBUR. Now, don't argue; we've waited long enough; get in!

ORVILLE (under protest). As you say. [Gets in seat.]

WILBUR. Strapped?


WILBUR. Got the benzene on?

ORVILLE (slightly off). Benzene on.

WILBUR. Switch on?

ORVILLE. Switch on. Give the propeller a crank.

WILBUR. All right. [Effect of motor starting; sputters and bangs like rifle 
fire; then steadies and roars.] Let her warm up a while, Orville.

ORVILLE (shouting). Right.

HAYNES. Mr. Wright, I'd like to have a word with you, I'm Haynes of the press.

WILBUR. Sure, Mr. Haynes.

HAYNES. Would ye mind steppin' over here; we'd never hear each other.

WILBUR. Not at all. [Pause as motor fades slightly into distance.] Now, what 
can I do for you?

HAYNES. Mr. Wright, I wanta be fair about all this in the paper; but, you 
fellas don't really think that'll lift off'n the ground do ye?

WILBUR. Can't really say, Mr. Haynes. We think it will, but you'll be able to 
tell in a minute.

HAYNES. But I think--

ORVILLE (calling). Wil! Wil!

WILBUR. All right, Wil; coming. [To Haynes.] Sorry Mr. Haynes

DANIELS (walking in). Well, do you think they'll make it, Haynes?

HAYNES. I think they're durn fools. What you think?

DANIELS. Can't say; but gosh amighty, they deserve to, after all that work.

WILBUR (off mike). Good luck, Orv.

DANIELS. He's starting. [The motor revs up.]

WARD. Kinda slow, though.

HAYNES. Slower than a durn turtle; never get into the air at that speed.

DANIELS. She's moving faster!

WARD. Look! Holy cracker, she's lifting! [Ad libs of surprise from all.]

VOICE ONE. She's in the air!

VOICE TWO. She's liftin'!

(Ad lib shouts from rest.)

WILBUR. Stick to it, Orville! Stick to it!

(Shouts of hurrah, etc.)

DANIELS. He's flying, Haynes; danged if he ain't flying!

WARD. He's done it!

(Off stage sound of plane landing.)

ALL. OH-H-H! [Disappointed.] He's down!

DANIELS. Congratulations, Wilbur! It stayed up!

WILBUR. Not for long though, 12 seconds; but it's a beginning! [Shouting.] 
Good for you, Orville; how was it?

ORVILLE (walking in). Fine; could have stayed up longer but a cross wind hit 

DANIELS. Well; what do you think now, Mr. Haynes?

HAYNES. Well; I don't mean ta be belittlin', but I can't see that it means 
anything. Why even if it stayed up longer, the danged thing's too dangerous 
fer any good. [In the background the heavy idling of a multi-motored transport 
engine starts low background.] Sides it couldn't go more'n a few miles and the 
new auto's dangerous enuf fer that. [The background swells as Haynes fades.] 
No; I don't think it'll amount to much.

(The engines swell, then down.)

GIRL. Goodbye, Mother.

MOTHER. Goodbye darling; write me every day. 

[Ad libs in background; goodbye, etc.]

MAN. So long Fred!

SECOND MAN. So long.

(We fade in on dispatcher as we fade away from crowd.)

DISPATCHER (P. A. system). All aboard. All aboard. Passengers for Honolulu, 
Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, Manila, and Canton, China. All aboard for 
the China Clipper!

(Organ in full, then down into roar of multi-motored engines, then down 

NARRATOR. Slowly, graceful, the 25-ton multi-motored bird, skids along the 
waters of San Francisco Bay, dips under the new bridge, rises to the infinite 
blue, points its prow to China in a salute to the Wright Brothers, and the men 
since Ovid who dreamed that one day man would fly.

(Organ up full with engines, then down behind.)

NARRATOR (continued). Such are some of the threads which have woven the 
tapestry of American genius into a portrait of a new day and age. If 
democratic government is on trial, in the conflicts of the nations, the gifts 
to mankind that Americans have made never can be; for by the dreams of these 
men, the world can fly, hurl electric words across oceans, transmit human 
knowledge by speedy mechanical fingers, and live in a more complete world than 
the founders of a struggling new democratic nation found it, when they made 
provisions for the American Patent System.

(Organ up full, then down.)

NARRATOR (continued). The Columbia Workshop has just presented a review of the 
history of the American Patent System, and the story behind some of the great 
inventions it encouraged in the past. It is now our pleasure to let you hear 
Mr. Justin Macklin, First Assistant Commissioner of the United States Patent 
Office, who will tell you something of the future of the Patent System. We now 
transfer you to Washington, D. C.

MR. MACKLIN. The variety of inventions and experiences of the past has 
frequently led to the question, "has everything of any importance been 
invented?" Those who have studied the history of inventions answer 
emphatically "no!"

In 1844 the first Commissioner of Patents, Ellsworth, reported to Congress 
that the extraordinary advancement in inventions seemed to foretell the 
arrival of a period when human improvement must end.

Since then we have seen the telegraph span continents and oceans; then came 
the telephone and later the radio. At the time of the beginning of radio with 
its dot-and-dash signals from station to station and from ship to shore, the 
horseless carriage clattered down our streets. At that time the present vast 
industrial extent of the automobile could hardly have been foreseen by the 
bravest of prophets, yet it is only one of many industries which have grown up 
since the beginning of this century.

We do not know what the future holds; this we do know, that scientific 
research and engineering developments as they relate to inventions and 
patented improvements are being carried forward on a vast scale and in a most 
businesslike manner. Most of us living now will see changes as surprising as 
the development of the telephone, radio, railroad, steamboat, airplane, 
electric lamp, vulcanized rubber, and the present marvels of chemistry.

Present electrical and mechanical devices will be much more widely used. The 
nature of our homes will be changed in architecture and materials of 
construction. The most modern apartment with its complete living units and 
conveniences, dining service, retail stores, is but a suggestion of future 
apartments perfectly air-conditioned, ideally lighted, and conveniently 

Push buttons and dial telephones may be replaced by automatic devices 
responsive to the commands of our voice. The individual homes of the suburbs 
and country are bound to change rapidly. Great expansion of industry will be 
involved. Steel homes are but the beginning. Materials not before used, but 
present in abundance, will be brought into the solution of the housing 
problem. Houses will be comfortable the year round in all climates, and 
sanitary beyond our present concept of the meaning of that word. Few, if any, 
will be so unfortunate as not to have the privilege of living in such homes in 
the future.

The new zephyr trains are forerunners of rail travel of the future. Travel 
times will be much shortened under conditions of greater safety; the air 
liners of the future will cross continents and oceans on pathways as definite 
as to altitudes and direction as the straightest railway track. Great airships 
will take off and land with the accuracy of the schedule of commuters' trains 
-- day and night, in clear weather, fog, or storm. The number of our airports 
will, of course, greatly increase.

Automobile transportation, as we know it today, has many problems which must 
be solved. The problems of road crossings and of automobile parking and 
storage need only be thought of as having been worked out ideally, to envision 
the actual conditions in a very short time. For example, automobile parking 
and storage in the cities will be like the handling of airplanes on an 
airplane carrier; driving to the hotel or theater, one will merely step out of 
his car, and it will drop from sight to be returned to the owner promptly on 

We are all looking forward to the advent of television. Developments in the 
photo-electric cell and other electrical marvels are bringing practical use of 
television nearer every day. Soon television will take us to the scene of 
action of news events, of peace, war, accident, or parade. We may watch 
distant football games where now we may only listen.

In the realms of science we may expect many surprises. For instance, in the 
near future electrical microscopes will give us details of minute wonders, 
seen with enlargements many times that of which glass lenses are now capable, 
and by the same token electrical telescopes may take us hundreds of millions 
of light years of distance farther out into the universe. We will also be able 
to see in the dark.

With all these things there must follow the development of human engineering; 
our relations to each other in the community, State, and Nation must be 
studied and improved in proportion to our development of instrumentalities 
which serve man.

Not only will man's material surroundings be affected by the scientific 
discoveries of the future, but the very timber of his existence will be 
profoundly changed. Thinkers will deal with our great social and economic 
problems. Our ancient enemies -- disease, ignorance, poverty, and crime -- 
will be eliminated.

NARRATOR. Thank you, Mr. Macklin. Ladies and Gentlemen, you have listened to 
Mr. Justin Macklin, First Assistant Commissioner of the United States Patent 
Office who spoke on the future of American invention, as a conclusion to a 
dramatic review of the history of the American Patent System and some of the 
outstanding inventions of the past 100 years.


The Columbia Workshop is proud of its opportunity in sharing in the Centennial 
Celebration of the United States Patent Office.

The program was written and directed by Irving Reis.


The author wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to the United States Patent 
Office, and the many other sources from which he borrowed liberally in the 
preparation of this presentation.

Tune in next week for the Workshop's presentation of one of the outstanding 
experimental dramatic scripts "Rhythm of the Jute Mill" by William Robson.

This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.

(Fade theme, 5 seconds.)