Re: intellectual property

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun Mar 06 2005 - 07:23:28 MST

At 07:58 AM 05/03/05 +0000, "David Picon Alvarez" <>


>In any case, even inventions are insights:
>a steam engine is, before anything else, the application of the insight that
>you can use steam to do work.

Being a bit of a technology history buff, that's not what actually happened.

It might have application to AI discussion as an example like the scanning
probe microscopes--which could have been done with technology from the
1930s. (I.e., the idea that an AI could exist in a 386 computer if we just
knew how.)

Commercial steam power (for pumping out mines) originated in the Newcomen
engine. There is a good drawing of it here:

These engines were called "atmospherics" because they used steam at
insignificant pressure over that of the atmosphere. The cylinder was
filled steam, the steam condensed with a spray of water into the cylinder,
generating a partial vacuum atmospheric pressure pushed the piston into the
cylinder. They were horribly inefficient, partly because heating and
cooling the cylinder. Watt's invention can be summed up in two words
"separate condenser." He obtained a patent and for the time became rather
well off.

Having 6 patents myself, I can make further comments about their value and
problems if there is interest.

Keith Henson

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