The title of this blog isn’t a clever attempt to rewrite “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” even though it has been 50 years since the Beatles craze swept America. I’m taking us back to another moment in that landmark year: the 1964 World’s Fair.
Picture approximately 51 million visitors. Children squeal with delight on rides. Fairgoers devour sweet treats. Scientists predict (and showcase) revolutionary advances in technology.
Want to know which predictions came through and which didn’t quite pan out? Here’s an excerpt (read full story from NPR):
What they had right:
- Picturephone: Bell System introduced this innovation, which allowed people to see whom they were calling. It didn’t go over well at the time, but it’s a concept that’s an everyday part of our lives now in apps such as Skype and Facetime.
- Robotics: Walt Disney’s “It’s a Small World” exhibit introduced robotic animation in which characters sing, speak and make lifelike gestures such as smiles and blinks. It’s still in use in theme parks and movies today.
- Ford Mustang: The two-seater sports car with its long hood and short rear deck was officially unveiled at the World’s Fair and immediately became popular. It has remained in production ever since.
What they had wrong:
- Colonies on the moon, underwater and in Antarctica: The “Futurama 2” ride from General Motors featured images of people living in places where they clearly, uh, don’t.
- Jet packs: There were demonstrations of jet pack power at the fair, with men wearing them and zooming around the grounds. Sadly, they remain a mode of transport found mainly in science fiction.
Experience this exciting event through the eyes of spectators in photos they submitted to NBC News.
I can’t imagine what’s in store for the next 50 years, but I can say one thing: I am not moving to the moon or Antarctica to join a colony.
Good news: The U.S. produced more global patents in 2011 than the year before. The not so good news: Our overall share decreased, while Japan and China recorded significant increases.
Over 181,900 international patents were filed in 2011, up 10.7 percent from 2010, according to estimated data from the World International Patent Organization (WIPO). China, Japan and the U.S. accounted for 82% of the total growth, the highest since 2005.
Estimated data was collected from the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treat (PCT) system. The PCT system facilitates the process of seeking patent protection across its over 140-member countries by postponing the requirement to file a separate application in each country until after a centralized processing and initial patentability evaluation have taken place.
The U.S., with an estimated 48,596 filings (26.7 percent of all patents filled worldwide in 2011), remained the largest user of the PCT system. The U.S. was followed by Japan (38,888 fillings; 21.4 percent of all patents filled), Germany (18,568 fillings; 10.2 percent of all patents filled) and China (16,406 fillings; 9.0 percent of all patents filled).
However, the U.S. (0.7 percent decrease) saw a drop in its shares of total filings, while China (1.5 percent increase) and Japan (1.8 percent increase) each increased their share by more than a percentage point.
The report also looked at patent fillings in 35 technology sectors. Digital communication technologies (7.1 percent published applications) accounted for the largest share of estimated PCT applications in 2011. It was followed by electronic machinery (6.9%), medical technology (6.6%) and computer technology (6.4%). Electronic machinery (23.2%) saw the fastest growth between 2010 and 2011, and another 11 sectors experienced double-digit growth.
One thing we can all agree on: entrepreneurship and innovation are the backbones of a thriving society. But in order for success to be achieved, trial and error must always take place. The Huffington Post provides a look at some inventions that never quite took off. See them here.
My favorite is probably the Sun Pod:
Thankfully this 80’s prototype never caught on. In theory it was for those seeking peace and quiet on the beach, but in practice it would basically be a human oven.