Early patent death

Christie’s are holding an auction of The Origins of Cyberspace. This contains much, much cool stuff. Turing’s On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem. Capek’s Rossum’s Universal Robots , the play that invented the word “robot“. And the document that began the information revolution, Eckert and Mauchly’s Outline of plans for development of electronic computers.

And what do we see from Christie’s own description of that seminal document ?

Five weeks after the unveiling of the ENIAC on February 14, 1946, Eckert and Mauchly resigned from the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School over a disagreement about patent rights.

Bloody patent people nearly strangled the digital revolution before it had even begun! What does this tell you?

I have tried to convince work that we should devote some of the IT budget to buying cool documents from this auction and displaying them, rather than the not-very-good art we currently have on the walls, but they are having none of it. Bah.

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