The USPTO granted its first patent in 1836 and 175 years later, the government body now has a database that is eight million strong.

On August 16, 2011, patent number 8,000,000 received the rubber stamp of approval. This patent was granted to Second Sight Medical for a prosthetic device that restores the sight of patients blinded by retinal degeneration.


Other notable millions describe computing devices, tires and even our favorite bacteria E. Coli. Check out numbers one to eight million in the gallery above. [USPTO via Slashdot]

The first US patent law went into effect in 1790 and the first patent was signed by President George Washington on July 31, 1790. In this patent, Samuel Hopkins described a method for making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer.

The Patent Act of July 4, 1836 established a numbering system for patents and patent No. 1 was issued on July 13, 1836. This patent was awarded to John Ruggles for his invention of traction wheels. Previous patents, over 10,000 or them, were renumbered with the suffix "X" so they would not be confused with the newer patents.

The first million milestone was granted to Francis H. Holton of Akron, Ohio on August 8, 1911. He described a method to make vehicle tires more durable and puncture resistant.

The two millionth patent was awarded on April 30, 1935 to Joseph Ledwinka for the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company. He described a high-speed rail car with a pneumatic tire and flanged rail wheel.

Patent number three million is the first to include some modern-ish technology. This September 12, 1961 patent describes an Automated Reading System designed to improve the efficiency of data-processing machines. It was awarded to Kenneth Eldredge and assigned to General Electric.

Patent four million is for asphalt. Its describes a novel roadway mixture that is recyclable. Even back on December 28, 1976, people were thinking green.

March 19, 1991 found us looking in a microscope to understand the significance of patent number five million. This patent describes a method for producing ethanol from E. Coli bacteria.

Patent six million was awarded to 3M on December 7, 1999 and describes a method for syncing files from one computer to another with the press of a single button. Sound familiar?

The seven millionth patent was awarded on Valentine's Day 2006 and brings us back to our textile roots. It describes a strong, biodegradable, low-cost fiber used in the textile industry.

Granted to Second Sight Medical, the eight millionth patent is for a medical device that restores the sight of patients blinded by retinal degeneration.