This Is Where the Patent Trolls Live

This American Life had an amazing story this past weekend about patent trolls. It was pegged to Intellectual Ventures, and various others who litigate rather than innovate. But the real patent trolls are being traded on the NYSE. » 7/26/11 4:40pm 7/26/11 4:40pm

This Rock-Slicing, Nanotechnology-Packing Super Steel Was Forgotten 250…

If you were on a battlefield say, 700 years ago, Damascus steel mattered. The super-strong blades were fabled in their age, said to have sliced through the swords of foes and solid rock. Then we forgot how to make it. » 9/01/10 5:00pm 9/01/10 5:00pm

Leonardo's Notebooks

Here's a sampling of the most fascinating of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks, culled from 7000 pages of original sketches and text, by H. Anna Suh. She'll be answering reader questions in the comments for the next hour. UPDATED. » 8/31/10 2:20pm 8/31/10 2:20pm

The Inspiration Behind the Polaroid Breakthrough? An Impatient Daughter

When most kids complain about something taking too long, their father's response isn't usually as generous as pioneering an innovation that spans the next half a century. But Edwin Land, creator of Polaroid, was not your average dad. » 8/30/10 11:20pm 8/30/10 11:20pm

The Rise of the Revolutionary ‘Riding Car’

The age of the automobile started exactly 125 years ago yesterday when Gottlieb Daimler filed a patent for his revolutionary "riding car," a two-wheeled machine driven by an internal combustion engine. » 8/30/10 3:20pm 8/30/10 3:20pm

The 21st Century Clapper

The original clapper launched in 1986. It was a disaster. Because of shoddy engineering, it started blowing up TVs, and Joseph Pedott ended up having the whole thing re-designed. The rest is history. And a jingle! » 8/30/10 1:20pm 8/30/10 1:20pm

How One Man Accidentally Invented Electronics in 1906

When Lee de Forest accidentally created the first electronic audio amplifier—the Audion—he "inaugurated the age of electronics." You can learn about it in this excerpt from Nicholas Carr's book What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. [Gizmodo] » 8/28/10 2:00pm 8/28/10 2:00pm

The 10 Greatest Fictional Inventors of All Time

Eureka has been Giz's celebration of inventors of all stripe, from Tesla to Popeil. But some of the most memorable inventors of our time were actually invented themselves. Here are ten fictional innovators near and dear to our hearts. » 8/28/10 12:00pm 8/28/10 12:00pm

: Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist whose…

Inside Thomas Edison's Vertically Integrated MegaLab

Thomas Edison was not an inventor for the love of the game. "I always invented to obtain money to go on inventing," he said. For a tireless mind like that, a lab had to be far more than a lab. » 8/28/10 9:00am 8/28/10 9:00am

Dr. NakaMats: The Man Who Claims to Have Invented Nearly Everything You…

It's tough to think about inventors without remembering dear Dr. NakaMats. He claims to have invented over 3,000 items—frequently while almost drowning himself—and basically thinks Thomas Edison's an uneducated wimp who quit at 1,093 inventions. » 8/27/10 10:20pm 8/27/10 10:20pm

The Cleanable Tobacco Pipe Invented By Kurt Vonnegut's Dad

After fathering sci-fi satirist Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Kurt Vonnegut Sr. dabbled in tobacco smoking, pipe cleaning, and innovation. The result: this patent for an easily-cleanable, tubular-stemmed tobacco pipe for "a maximum of digital cleanliness." That means clean fingers. [Atlantic] » 8/27/10 9:00pm 8/27/10 9:00pm

Five People Killed By Their Own Inventions

Imagine putting years of time, effort and money into a life-changing invention that you think will bring you tons of money and fame while changing the world. Now what if your amazing invention ends up killing you instead? » 8/27/10 8:00pm 8/27/10 8:00pm

My First 3D: The Story of View-Master

No matter your age, there's a good chance that a View-Master was lying around either your bedroom or a friend's. The iconic red goggles are the perfect childhood diversion—cheap and briefly amusing. They also have a long history. » 8/27/10 6:00pm 8/27/10 6:00pm

How Nathan Myhrvold and Intellectual Ventures Would Change the Patent…

Patents! They're a big deal. Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures depends on patents to make money, and they file a lot of 'em. So I asked him how he'd change the patent system. » 8/27/10 5:05pm 8/27/10 5:05pm

The Long, Unglamorous History of the Toilet

Nobody is entirely sure who first had the privilege of sitting on a toilet. Evidence of advanced plumbing systems in the ancient world abounds, but it's a strange, meandering path from antiquity to checking your inbox on the can. » 8/27/10 4:00pm 8/27/10 4:00pm

Does Paul Allen Suing The Entire Internet Prove Our Patent System's…

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has launched a salvo of litigation over disputed patents, targeting Apple, Google, AOL, and Netflix, among others. None of the patents involve technology Allen was responsible for creating, but were licensed through his Silicon Valley incubator. » 8/27/10 3:02pm 8/27/10 3:02pm

6 Legends of TV Inventions

There's not much better than a good infomercial—except maybe a really bad one. But these days there's no better innovation hotbed than basic cable paid programming. Here we separate product from pitchman, and celebrate the brains behind As-Seen-On-TV. » 8/27/10 2:40pm 8/27/10 2:40pm

Who Invented the Macintosh?

As invention has shifted from the singular genius to the corporate R&D lab, the notion of the true creator has become more slippery. For instance, who invented the Macintosh? » 8/27/10 1:20pm 8/27/10 1:20pm

Do Different Languages Equal Different Realities?

We usually assume words are just a way of expressing ideas already in our heads. But what if it's the other way around? Some linguists say the languages we speak fundamentally alter the way we think, and even perceive reality. » 8/27/10 11:59am 8/27/10 11:59am

Why Failure Is an Option When It Comes to Inventing

Nathan Myhrvold explains why failure is an option at Intellectual Ventures—and it has to be for any inventor, really. [Eureka on Gizmodo] » 8/27/10 9:30am 8/27/10 9:30am