Eleven Million Inventions and Counting
This list was adapted from an article on my personal blog.
On May 11, 2021, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued its eleven millionth patent. That’s eleven million distinct inventions published in detail with no duplicates. It’s quite an amazing feat, considering that it took over a hundred years to issue the first million patents.
Here’s a look at the eleven big milestone patents. It’s interesting to see the progression in the types of technology being patented—from automobile technology to computers to genetics to prosthesis.
We can guess that the twelve-millionth patent will be granted by 2024. What sort of invention will patent number 12,000,000 be?
1. 1911: US Patent #1,000,000 Vehicle-Tire
“To this end the invention consists in a tire which is provided with a specially constructed yielding member or part of a more or less cellular or equivalent formation and adapted to provide substantially the same kind and measure of resiliency that is obtained by the pneumatic tube and yet is proof against injury by puncture and very much more durable in service as well as being considerably less expensive in original cost, as will hereinafter fully appear.”
2. 1935: US Patent #2,000,000 Vehicle Wheel Construction
“The invention relates to vehicle wheels having pneumatic tires, and more particularly to pneumatic tired wheels for railway vehicles such as rail cars… My invention has for its objects improvements over the precautionary measures which have been taken heretofore. These objects have been accomplished by mechanically securing the tire to the rim by means passing through the rim and cooperating with means within the tire.”
3. 1961: US Patent #3,000,000 Automatic Reading System
“An object of this invention is the provision of apparatus for converting human language into machine language without the intervention of human readers and transcribers. Another object of the present invention is to provide a novel arrangement for detecting the distinguishing characteristics of characters in human language and converting these to machine language. Still another object of the present invention is the provision of a method and means for converting human language to machine language without requiring extensive alterations in writing equipment.”
4. 1976: US Patent #4,000,000 Process for Recycling Asphalt-Aggregate Compositions
“In recycled asphalt-aggregate compositions prepared by adding a suitable amount of make-up asphalt to pieces of the used composition and heating the mixture in a rotating cylindrical drum by tumbling the composition over heated pipes as it is gradually directed towards an output end of the drum, the improvement comprising adding an amount of petroleum hydrocarbon to achieve a laid down asphalt penetration of between 25 and 300 dmn at 77° F. A further embodiment of the improved process comprises venting a mixture of hydrocarbon gases and moisture vaporized from the hot composition mixture at the output end of the apparatus, condensing the moisture and removing it and returning the hydrocarbon gases to a combustion chamber for providing heat to the apparatus tubes. Still another improvement comprises an apparatus modification wherein a plurality of relatively short pipes are disposed in the forward ends of the heating tubes through a front plate displaced from the forward end wall of the drum with the open pipe ends exposed to the combustion chamber for providing heat to the interior of the heating tubes.”
5. 1991: US Patent #5,000,000 Ethanol Production by Escherichia Coli Strains Co-Expressing Zymomonas PDC and ADH Genes
"A novel operon and plasmids comprising genes which code for the alcohol dehydrogenase and pyruvate decarboxylase activities of Zymomonas mobilis are described. Also disclosed are methods for increasing the growth of microorganisms or eukaryotic cells and methods for reducing the accumulation of undesirable metabolic products in the growth medium of microorganisms or cells."
6. 1999: US Patent #6,000,000 Extendible Method and Apparatus for Synchronizing multiple files on two different computer systems
“Many users of handheld computer systems maintain databases on the handheld computer systems. To share the information, it is desirable to have a simple method of sharing the information with personal computer systems. An easy to use extendible file synchronization system is introduced for sharing information between a handheld computer system and a personal computer system. The synchronization system is activated by a single button press. The synchronization system proceeds to synchronize data for several different applications that run on the handheld computer system and the personal computer system. If the user gets a new application for the handheld computer system and the personal computer system, then a new library of code is added for synchronizing the databases associate with the new application. The synchronization system automatically recognizes the new library of code and uses it during the next synchronization.”
7. 2006: US Patent #7,000,000 Polysaccharide Fibers
“This invention pertains to novel fibers made of α(1→;3) polysaccharides, and a process for their production. The fibers of the invention have “cotton-like” properties but can be produced as continuous filaments on a year-round basis. The fibers are useful in textile applications.”
8. 2011: US Patent #8,000,000 Visual Prosthesis
“A visual prosthesis apparatus and a method for limiting power consumption in a visual prosthesis apparatus. The visual prosthesis apparatus comprises a camera for capturing a video image, a video processing unit associated with the camera, the video processing unit configured to convert the video image to stimulation patterns, and a retinal stimulation system configured to stop stimulating neural tissue in a subject’s eye based on the stimulation patterns when an error is detected in a forward telemetry received from the video processing unit.”
9. 2015: US Patent #9,000,000 Windshield washer conditioner
“A system and method of collecting and conditioning rainwater and other moisture, such as dew, from a windshield of a vehicle and utilizing the collected fluid to replenish the fluids in the windshield washer reservoir. A collection funnel is positioned on a vehicle in order to collect rainwater and other moisture. Rainwater and other fluids from the collection funnel are directed to a conditioning cartridge where the water is de-ionized and windshield washer fluid is added. The cartridges are designed to be single replaceable units. The mixed fluid from the mixing cartridge is directed to the pre-existing windshield washer reservoir.”
10. 2018: US Patent #10,000,000 Coherent LADAR using intra-pixel quadrature detection
“A frequency modulated (coherent) laser detection and ranging system includes a read-out integrated circuit formed with a two-dimensional array of detector elements each including a photosensitive region receiving both return light reflected from a target and light from a local oscillator, and local processing circuitry sampling the output of the photosensitive region four times during each sample period clock cycle to obtain quadrature components. A data bus coupled to one or more outputs of each of the detector elements receives the quadrature components from each of the detector elements for each sample period and serializes the received quadrature components. A processor coupled to the data bus receives the serialized quadrature components and determines an amplitude and a phase for at least one interfering frequency corresponding to interference between the return light and the local oscillator light using the quadrature components.”
11. 2021: US Patent #11,000,000 Repositioning wires and methods for repositioning prosthetic heart valve devices within a heart chamber and related systems, devices and methods
“The invention provides methods, devices and systems for delivering, positioning and/or repositioning an expandable prosthetic heart valve in a patient’s heart chamber. At least one non-looped wire and looped wire pair is operatively connected with an expanded prosthetic heart valve that is collapsed within a delivery catheter lumen having its distal end positioned in the subject heart chamber. The collapsed prosthetic heart valve is translated through the delivery catheter lumen to and out of its distal end where the prosthetic heart valve expands to a working configuration. The wire(s) of the non-looped and looped wire pair may be manipulated by pulling proximately or pushing distally to position or reposition the expanded prosthetic stent into position, then released from connection with the positioned stent and withdrawn from the patient.”