Monday, July 07, 2014

Frank Capra's Caltech degree, patents, and innovation

IPBiz frequently writes about Chester Carlson, the inventor of xerography, who graduated from Caltech in 1930, was employed by Bell Labs as a scientist, then in the patent law department, and was fired by Bell Labs, and spent the next 20 years getting xerography to the market place.

Twelve years before Carlson graduated, film director Frank Capra obtained a degree in chemical engineering from Caltech. Although there was some interface between Joseph Walker and Capra on patents on zoom lenses ["it was our talks through which he got patents"], Capra got a boost from his Caltech education to adapt quickly to sound pictures, when many considered them a passing fad. Capra correctly recognized sound films as an innovation. Capra wrote, directed and produced "Hemo the Magnificent" released in 1957 by Bell Laboratories (with Hemo hosted by Frank Baxter, who unlike Capra, had no scientific training). Later in his career, Capra did "Rendezvous in Space" for the 1964 World's Fair in New York, which led to him initially working on the film "Marooned," from which he left over budgetary issues.

From IPBiz on Chester Carlson in 2007:

Did the FTC accurately recount the history of Carlson and xerography?



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