April 2009

Inventor Portrait: Art Fry

April 27, 2009

Part of a continuing series of inventor portraits.

Inventor: Art Fry
Invention: Repositionable stationery
Brand Name: Post-it Notes

As told on Post-it manufacturer 3M’s website, “The idea for repositionable notes struck Fry while singing in the church choir. His bookmark kept falling out of his hymnal, causing him to lose his page. So… Fry used a portion of his working hours to develop a solution to his problem. Now the world is singing the praises of his pet project: Post-it Notes.”

Post-it Inventor Art Fry

Post-it Inventor Art Fry

You can read the whole story of Post-it history at 3M.com.

Inventor Portrait: Pam Turner

April 23, 2009

Part of a continuing series of inventor portraits.

Inventor: Pam Turner
Invention: Easy-to-thread sewing needle
Patent: Pending
Brand Name: Spiral Eye Needle

About 10 seconds after Pam Turner showed me how to thread her Spiral Eye Needles, I was an expert. It usually takes me longer to thread a needle than it does to sew a button, but it really is impressively easy with Pam’s invention.

Pam says she remembers her mother having problems threading needles when she was young. Her mom used to say, “We went to the moon, why can’t somebody fix the needle?” Pam decided that if nobody else was going to do it, she had to.

Pam Turner

Pam Turner

Pam used to actually make the needles herself, using a grinder in her home. But now she has a manufacturer, and business is taking off.

The Spiral Eye Needle website: www.spiraleyeneedles.com


April 17, 2009

I often carry a point-and-shoot camera with me for unexpected moments I want to capture, but these days I find that the iPhone camera is filling that niche more and more. It’s always with me, even when my cameras aren’t, and its fixed focal length, uneven focus, and low resolution remind me of popular toy film cameras like the Holga, yielding similarly interesting results.

iPhone Diner

Inventor Portrait: Jerry Ford

April 13, 2009

Part of a continuing series of inventor portraits.

Inventor: Jerry Ford
Invention: Automatic wheelchair brake device
Patent: No. 7,066,482
Brand Name: Safe-T-Chair

Elderly people with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia sometimes forget to use the manual brakes on their wheelchairs, which then fall out from under them when they try to stand or sit. When this was brought to the attention of crop farmer Jerry Ford, he decided to do something about it. His invention is a rather clever automatic brake system for manual wheelchairs. It’s even designed in a way that still allows the wheelchair to fold up for transport.

I met with Jerry on his farm and learned more about his wheelchair brake system and its inspiration:

Here’s a better look at the photos in the video. Each of them can be enlarged by clicking:

Jerry Ford

Jerry Ford

Jerry Ford

The Jerry Ford Company website: www.jerryfordcompany.com