Is Black the Color of My True Love's BlackBerry?
How an Invention Can Make You Rich—or Bankrupt
Jan. 24, 2006: Vol. 2, Issue No.
IN THE NEWS
MSNBC Breaking News
Supreme Court rejects BlackBerry appeal over patent suit. More to come ...
—Jan. 22, 2006
Armonica invention gets taken for a spin
Most people know that Benjamin Franklin did not invent electricity by hanging a key on a kite and standing outside during a lightning storm. One thing he really did invent was the armonica.
—Tina Moore, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 16, 2006
What do Benjamin Franklin—whose 300th birthday was celebrated last week—and BlackBerry have in common?
With the new chief justice, John Roberts, sending the BlackBerry case back to the lower courts, BlackBerry may go black—stranding more than 2 million people in business who rely on the system for wireless written and phone communications.
The ramifications are huge.
The Ben Franklin story is gentler. At early music concerts to celebrate his 300th birthday on July 17, 2005, Philadelphians were treated to performances on a recherché instrument called the glass armonica, which he invented.
Of course, every one of us has benefited from one or more of Franklin's inventions: Franklin Stove, bifocals, lightning rod, odometer, daylight savings time, catheter, electrical battery, fire insurance, swim fins, extension arm (to reach books on high shelves), street lamps, and vitamin C.
But the real difference between BlackBerry and Franklin is that inventing something 200 years ago was relatively easy.
Today it can be a nightmare.
A Quick Note About Franklin's Armonica
A fine amateur musician, Franklin was in England in 1761 when he heard a performance of musical glasses—tumblers filled with varying amounts of water and rubbed on the rim with a wet finger to produce a musical tone (just as children do today at the Thanksgiving dinner table).
- United States