Contamination-seeking drones - IBM Patent 9447448.

Stay back and let the drones do the dirty work. Patent 9447448 makes cognitive drones able to inspect and decontaminate places so humans don’t have to. The drones’ on-board AI system can collect and analyze samples, so it can identify and clean up any bacteria or outbreak. Meanwhile you get to hang back, safely out of harm’s way.

This is just one of the record-breaking 8,000+ patents IBM received this year. Explore the latest IBM patents. →


Enjoy these registered patent labels for products created for and marketed to women! From the shoe-damaging perils of driving a car to keeping your hands clean while cooking patty-shaped foods, inventors know what ladies need.

All of the labels are from Record Group 241, Records of the Patent and Trademark Office. These patent labels have been digitized and will soon be available in the National Archives Catalog (


The Haunted Archives

To celebrate Halloween, our colleagues took a look in our cartographic records at the National Archives to see if they could find any spooky records. They came across the following Utility Patent Drawings which certainly help to set the mood for the Halloween season.

A number of jack-o’-lantern designs came up in the patent drawings. You can see many different concepts for lanterns in the series.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without dressing up in costume. Take a look at some of design drawings for masks.

RG 241, Utility Patent Drawings, 434435

RG 241, Utility Patent Drawings, 885802

Perhaps the creepiest of all is this patent drawing for a special coffin which includes a “Device for Indicating Life in Buried Persons.”

RG 241, Utility Patent Drawings, 371626

You can learn more about the National Archives’ patents in a previous blog post, Utility Patent Drawings, and in our catalog here.

Friend of a Fiend?

Brian from softball sends you a friend request. He’s an all around good guy—punctual, complimentary, clean, the works! Go ahead and accept him. WAIT. Don’t do it. That is, don’t do it unless he’s been put to the test. IBM Patent No. 8,706,648 goes beyond Brian to calculate the digital or social media risk his friends pose to your personal Internet security. Just like in real life, some of your friends run with a bad crowd. Thankfully, In the cyber world, now something can protect you from such hijinks. (But if his friends start a big ruckus in the stands, you’re still on your own.) Discover more innovations from 22 record years →


Hedy Lamarr’s Secret Communication System

Famed Austrian-American actress Hedy Lamarr would had turned 100 earlier this month on November 9. (Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, 11/09/1914 - 1/19/2000.)

Did you know the screen legend was also a patent holder?  Having fled Europe and an unhappy marriage to an Austrian munitions manufacturer, Lamarr relocated to the United States prior to the outbreak of World War II.  In collaboration with avant-garde composer George Antheil, the two used knowledge from their respective fields to patent a “secret communication system.”  Their invention was intended to guide a torpedo by remote control to an enemy target, utilizing a novel synchronized frequency-hopping radio signal to prevent any jamming or interference from the enemy.

Figure 7 above depicts the torpedo in action, controlled from a mother ship and spotter aircraft, adjusting course to account for the ocean current and the enemy ship’s evasive maneuvers.

Patent Case File 2,292,387; Patent Case Files, 1836-1993; Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, Record Group 241; National Archives

Their innovative system was never adopted during the war, and neither would ever profit from their patent, but their ideas in frequency shifting would later prove instrumental in modern cellular and WiFi communications methods. Both Lamarr and Antheil were later inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

via the National Archives at Kansas City on Twitter:

Hedy Lamarr would have turned 100 on Nov. 9. #DYK the actress received a #patent for a secret comm. system? #USPTO

— Kansas City Archives (@KCArchives)

November 20, 2014

Cheers to one of IBM’s most inventive.

IBM’s Lisa Seacat Deluca was inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame this week. At just 34-years-old, Ms. Deluca has already filed close to 600 patent applications —making her one of the most prolific inventors in IBM’s history. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a self-published author, sought-after speaker and the first woman to reach IBM’s 100th plateau achievement level. Congratulations Lisa, we’re very proud to call you one of our own.

Learn more about Lisa Seacat Deluca->

Tesla Coil:

*Patent No. 462,418: Method of transformation of electrical energy by oscillatory condenser discharge. It was predicted that this apparatus afforded vast possibilities and would play an important part in the future.*

“This type of apparatus is identified with my name as certain as the law of gravitation is with that of Newton. I know that some have claimed that Professor Thomson also invented the so-called Tesla coil, but those feeble chirps ne'er went beyond Swampscott. Professor Thomson is an odd sort of man; very ingenious, but he never was a wireless expert; he never could be. Moreover, it is important to realize that this principle is universally employed everywhere. The greatest men of science have told me that this was my best achievement and, in connection with this apparatus I may say that a lot of liberties have been taken. For instance, a man fills this space [break D] with hydrogen; he employs all my instrumentalities, everything that is necessary, but calls it a new wireless system – the Poulsen arc. I cannot stop it. Another man puts in here [referring to space between self-inductive lines L L] a kind of gap – he gets a Nobel prize for doing it. My name is not mentioned. Still another man inserts here [conductor B] a mercury[-arc] rectifier. That is my friend Cooper Hewitt. But, as a matter of fact, those devices have nothing to do with the performance.

“If these men knew what I do, they would not touch my arrangements; they would leave my apparatus as it is. Marconi puts in here [break D] two wheels. I showed only one wheel; he shows two. And he says, “See what happens when the wheels are rotated; a wonderful thing happens!” What is the wonderful thing? Why, when the teeth of the wheels pass one another, the currents are broken and interrupted. That is the wonderful thing that happens? The Lord himself could not make anything else happen unless he broke his own laws. So, in this way, invention has been degraded, debased, prostituted, more in connection with my apparatus than in anything else. Not a vestige of invention as a creative effort is in the thousands of arrangements that you see under the name of other people – not a vestige of invention. It is exactly like in car couplings on which 6,000 patents have been taken out; but all the couplings are constructed and operated exactly the same way. The inventive effort involved is about the same as that of which a 30-year-old mule is capable. This is a fact.“

–Nikola Tesla

(Tesla explaining his wireless art in a pre-hearing interview with his legal counsel in 1916 to protect his radio patents from the Guglielmo Marconi and the Marconi Company.)

“Nikola Tesla On His Works With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, and Transmission of Power.” Twenty First Century Books, Breckenridge, Colorado, 2002.

Apparatus for Observing Eclipses, 10/29/1895

Patent Case File No. 548,868, Art of Producing for Observation Phenomena Attendant Upon Eclipses, Inventor: Stephen C. Drew Series: Patent Case Files, 1836 - 1993Record Group 241: Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, 1836 - 1978

More records related to eclipses from the @usnatarchives

The patent that started it all.

Today marks the 106th anniversary of IBM’s very first patent. US 998,631 stored data on punch cards that were the foundation of early automated computing. This simple but effective method was an instrumental part of the social security program during the Great Depression. Since then, IBM has continued to make huge improvements in the way we process and store data, but now they come in much smaller packages.

Patent Drawing for Juanita Gonzalez’s Cocktail Shaker, 10/18/1927

File Unit: D73656 - Design for a Cocktail Shaker , 1/1/1843 - 10/31/1975Series: Design Patent Files, 1/1/1843 - 10/31/1975Record Group 241: Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, 1836 - 1978

More understanding machines - IBM Patent 9384450.

What if we could learn from questions the same way we learn from answers? Patent 9384450 improves AI’s ability to answer what are called “open domain questions”, or questions that ask information outside of a machine’s previous knowledge. Machines may have a lot to learn, but now we can teach them to understand us better.

This is just one of the record-breaking 8,000+ patents IBM received this year. Explore the latest IBM patents. →

Patent Drawing for J.P. Holland’s Submarine Boat, 9/09/1902

Series: Patent Case Files, 1836 - 1993Record Group 241: Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, 1836 - 1978

Inventor John P. Holland developed the U.S. Navy’s first modern commisioned submarine, the USS Holland (SS-1) which entered active service on October 12, 1900.

Holland (SS-1). Starboard bow, on ways, 1900