close this bookVolume 1: No. 27
View the documentNews -- computer industry
View the documentNews -- job opportunities
View the documentNews -- software archives
View the documentTools -- additional online-service info
View the documentTools -- online information resources
View the documentNews -- applications of information technology
View the documentDiscussion -- software patents and service to society

Why ain't we rich? Maybe we just don't know where to line up.

Communications Intelligence Corp. (Menlo Park, CA) has just patented the concept of a two-screen, pen-based computer that opens up like a book. [NYT. SJM, 9/21.] I don't know that they've actually built one -- that isn't necessary for patent protection. (The patent for one-chip microprocessors, now in dispute, was granted prior to one having been built. Validity of the patent rests on whether the component technologies were available but the application not obvious.) Now that software patents are available, we should be looking for patentable new applications.

Craft House Corp. (Toledo, OH), the leading maker of paint- by-number sets, is marketing two PC programs that let you pour digital paint into coloring-book drawings. One lets you compose simple Barbie scenes, the other offers pictures of Christopher Columbus. Paint-your-dream-home software may be next. [Rick Ratliff, SJM, 9/22.] Probably not patented.

California requires every employer to have an employee safety manual. A CA law firm has created Build Your Own California Employment Manual on Disk, a 270-page document that can be edited down for a customized manual. "Business people need to have a final product, not just something else to think about," according to partner Mark Thierman. [Linda Rohrbough, Newsbytes. CC, 8/27.]

Enterprise Integration Technologies (EIT) is a Palo Alto start-up by Marty Tenenbaum (formerly of SRI, FLAIR, and Schlumberger), Jay Glicksman, and Bruce Hitson. EIT is working on productivity enhancement through shared information and decision- making. The founders are interested in managerial communication and groupwork, but one of their major projects is in factory automation. Companies like DEC and Intel need distributed production management systems that work across many different platforms. EIT's prototype Manufacturing Knowledge System (MKS) is written in LISP, and can't be scaled up as necessary. Much of the system will be rewritten in C++ or perhaps CLOS. An object- oriented database system is also needed, as LISP's unified address space just doesn't work for large, heterogeneous systems. [Dan Rasmus, PC AI, 9/91.]

Technology alone does not help people. To help people, start with their problems and work backwards to a solution. They will find ways to reward you. If you live to publish in prestigious journals, you will find little gratitude from society and little recognition beyond other such authors.

-- Ken