Whatever Floats Your Boat
January 5, 2007 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Buoying Vessels Over Shoals. In 1849, Abraham Lincoln was awarded Patent No. 6469 (drawing and large TIFF files of pages 1, 2, and 3 of the actual patent) for a device for raising stuck riverboats off sand bars. The model he submitted with the patent application is at the National Museum of American History; who made the model is a bit of a mystery. Lincoln is the only United States President to hold a patent. (Other Lincoln-related patents, including the patent for Lincoln Logs.)
[via History Now's timeline of 19th-century inventions.]

posted by kirkaracha (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
great post. Thank you for this!
posted by cosmicbandito at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2007

Good post, but why stop at Abe?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2007

Here's some information about Thomas Jefferson's role in the early development of the U.S. Patent Office. Despite being a prolific tinkerer with many inventions to his credit, he never personally applied for a patent, due to strong misgivings about the ill effects of a too-generous system for issuing them. Apparently, he felt his own inventions were merely adaptations of previously existing contraptions, and thus didn't qualify.
posted by gigawhat? at 10:38 AM on January 5, 2007

Wah, I was going to post this (GNFTI's link) today, but you got there before my 24 hour clock ran out. I like yours better anyway. In any event, here is a list of Canadian inventions (thank you Growabrain).

Don't miss GNFTI's link, it has patents by:

Eddie Van Halen - great drawing
Zeppo Marx - who knew?
Penn Jillette - a little bit naughty
Julie Newmar (Cat Woman) - a little bit cheeky
Hedy Lamarr - spread spectrum technology, really
posted by caddis at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2007

Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil, IIRC.
posted by pax digita at 12:15 PM on January 5, 2007

Lincoln was grappling with a terrible problem of the time -- the constatnly shifting, shallow (shoal) areas of rivers and harbors on which ships ran aground. Loss of lives and property to this kind of wreck was not at all uncommon; shoals don't stay the same from day to day, so they are not possible to chart accurately. Even where dredging took place, such as Nantucket harbor, natural processes quickly replaced the sand that had been removed. Shoals areas were a major economic and public-safety problem of Lincoln's day.
posted by Miko at 1:02 PM on January 5, 2007

Zeppo Marx - who knew?

A cardiac pulse rate monitor - I didn't know that - but the bros' Xander Harris had an even bigger one that ended up being used, like, everywhere: the Marman Clamp. It's even made it to outer space.

But his big sensation? He knocked 'em cold when he pulled off his Chevalier imitation: "If a nightingale could sing like you..."
posted by Opposite George at 2:45 PM on January 5, 2007

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