Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Data Storage Media Science

Inventor of Optical Storage Gets Little Reward 362

Thu Anon Coward writes "This poor guy invented optical storage (CDs, DVDs) and never made a dime. Another case of an idea before its time and cheating a man of his due. To quote the article, 'Consumers will spend billions this holiday season on CDs, DVDs and machines to record and play the ubiquitous silver discs. But the inventor of the underlying technology won't make a cent. Today, Russell does consulting from a lab in the basement of his Bellevue home to keep in the game and supplement a modest pension from Battelle.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Inventor of Optical Storage Gets Little Reward

Comments Filter:
  • by emptybody ( 12341 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:27PM (#11203491) Homepage Journal
    send him a penny for each CD you have.
    its more than the RIAA would give him.
    • Setup a Pay Pal account then.
      You need to ask for the adult links. ;-)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There is another side to this story. l

      According to Philips and Sony .. they didnt use this guys ideas for any of the main concepts. They had others working on it.

      Looks like they had problems proving they intended it for audio use though.
    • RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      He states he didn't get a penny, but in the article it states that he was hired to develop this "far out idea."

      I might be mistaken, but when you are hired by someone - they usually pay you a salery.

      Anything you create while on the clock is property of the company you work for. If I program a nifty spam cathing program while at work, even though that isn't one of my projects, that program is property of the company. But this guy was hired to research this specific idea, as well as others.

      What would be t
      • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Qzukk ( 229616 )
        Sorry, the guy did get paid

        Did he? Sounds more like the guy got had.

        What if I came by and spotted your family heirloom dinner table, told you I recognized it as a very fancy piece of furniture and that I'd pay you $40,000? (Lets assume that you have no job, and therefore need the money more than you need the table.) Then it turns out it was actually the table George Washington ate from, and that I knew it at the time, and that its actually worth several million dollars?

        You'd think you had been had to
        • Re:RTFA (Score:4, Insightful)

          by the angry liberal ( 825035 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @09:27PM (#11205195)

          What if I came by and spotted your family heirloom dinner table, told you I recognized it as a very fancy piece of furniture and that I'd pay you $40,000? (Lets assume that you have no job, and therefore need the money more than you need the table.) Then it turns out it was actually the table George Washington ate from, and that I knew it at the time, and that its actually worth several million dollars?

          WTF does this have to do with: "Here's $40k/year, now come up with something that will make me millions?" -- If he had invented it in his spare time, off company property, not using company resources at all, then I could see the debate. Rigth now, this just sounds like more /. self-victimization where the little guy is always right and the big company is always wrong.

          He was contracted to do what he did and got paid for that. Perhaps once you guys get jobs and move out of your parents basements, you will understand the business world a bit better.

          This is kind of like if one of the doctors involved with research of a cancer drug came out nearing the end of the patent life of said drug saying "I made this all by myself!", when it was, in reality, a collective of many doctors.
        • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nwbvt ( 768631 )
          "What if I came by and spotted your family heirloom dinner table, told you I recognized it as a very fancy piece of furniture and that I'd pay you $40,000? (Lets assume that you have no job, and therefore need the money more than you need the table.) Then it turns out it was actually the table George Washington ate from, and that I knew it at the time, and that its actually worth several million dollars?"

          Well for starters, that is a horrible analogy as according to the article, it sounds like he was doing

      • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

        What would be the point in a company hiring researchers and developers if the employees themself held the patents?

        Er ... that crazy, nutty idea that you should pay for what the idea is worth.

        The concept that a person owns an idea is as artificial as the concept that you own anything said person produces just because you pay him ... so the moral concept devolves into "who really came up with the innovation?". The answer is "the researcher AND the company" who did the work ... hence both should own t
  • Remember kids (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:28PM (#11203498)
    Strong IP protections are necessary because if it weren't for monetary benfits ensured to corporate research labs, we wouldn't benefit from the inventions they create!

    Right? ....Right?
    • The point of this (slightly old) article is that this is a guy who got screwed because of lax IP protections. I don't think your point works well with it. By the time the company that he was working for (and which owned the patent) had settled the lawsuit, he was no longer working for them.
  • Ripped off (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rost0031 ( 805973 )
    That really does suck especially when Amazon can patent 1-click stuff. This guy actually changed the face of entertainment, technology, and storage. Not a penny? That really does bite.
    • Re:Ripped off (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GGardner ( 97375 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:30PM (#11203529)
      How much "royalties" does the coder who implemented 1-click get, do you think?
      • I'm sure the patent lawyer who "invented" it, is getting far better paid than he deserves.

      • Re:Ripped off (Score:5, Informative)

        by lottameez ( 816335 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:50PM (#11203728)
        Probably none. Most employment agreements give the employer IP rights to things employees are paid to develop.
        • Re:Ripped off (Score:5, Interesting)

          by quarkscat ( 697644 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @08:07PM (#11204512)
          This story perfectly illustrates one of the
          differences in patent law between the good
          old USA and Germany.

          In the USA, the employee's invention & patent
          is owned by the employer.

          In Germany, the employee's invention & patent
          is owned by the employee.

          Most US corporations require that employees
          sign away all their rights to any innovation,
          regardless of whether it was developed on the
          job (or even job-related) or not. Even without
          relinquishing such rights, the employee has
          little legal recourse in American courts. In
          effect, the employer owns the employee.

          Considering the direction that corporate pensions
          and benefits are headed in the USA, which is:
          none (now 401K), and shrinking (eg. medical), the
          imbalance in favor of the corporation is getting
          worse. When the increase in L-1 and H1-B visas,
          and the RIFs in favor of offshore outsourcing are
          taken into account, the future of innovation in
          the USA looks bleak. Finally, the whole issue
          of software patents and the ridiculous position
          adopted by the USPTO, it is apparent that the
          USA's corporations are trading in their long term
          financial and industry growth for potential
          short term profits.
          • Considering the direction that corporate pensions
            and benefits are headed in the USA, which is:
            none (now 401K)

            Actually, the 401ks are more stable and reliable than the old pension system. Under the old pension system if the company goes belly up, you lose it. With 401ks if the company goes belly up, your 401k is still there. Also, in an age of frequent job changes, a 401k provides carryover benefit whereas the pension system had you lose your accrued benefit.

            and shrinking (eg. medical)

            My medical covera
    • Re:Ripped off (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Krach42 ( 227798 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:58PM (#11203811) Homepage Journal
      There have been a number of people who patent really good ideas (for instance, self-contained cartridges for bullets), but the companies just wait for these patents to expire if the person isn't willing to be "exploited".

      The do this, because even if the person *could* extend the patent, they can't, because they're not making money from the invention, so it's usually just as good to throw the money into the toilet as to renew a non-income-generating patent.

      Patents protect people with money, and companies with money, don't think much of anything else. Otherwise, they'll usually just wait out a patent. It's in their interests. Spend tons of money now, or wait until the patent expires, then you can get it yourself, because the plans and ideas are then public domain.
      • in the US patent renewal is pretty cheap for the individual.

        also, there is more then one company in the world.
        If I had invented self-contained cartridges for bullets, I would have tried to use the gun makers against each other.
        if that didn't work, I would have presented it to the military and convince them of it's benefits. Then they could start accepting bids. Now your in position to lisense your product to multiple companies.

        It is not enough to invent something, toss it out on the porch and hope someone
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:29PM (#11203512)
    and sold the rights, /. would curse him
    • If he had sold the rights to Microsoft, /. would curse him.
    • Get a grip (Score:5, Informative)

      by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:41PM (#11203640)
      Before you start flaming people for a perceived opinion they may not even have, read the fine article. It says he invented those basic principles some 20 years before CD's came onto the market. That means any patent he might have had would have expired by then.

      • so you deny that slashdot would lambaste him if he would have sold a patent for millions of dollars, so that we still have to pay him royalties? please, people consider that a mortal sin
      • Re:Get a grip (Score:3, Informative)

        by natet ( 158905 )
        Read the article before you tell people to get a grip. The article says the patents on his technology expired in 1991.
    • The company did patent it, Mr. Russell was an employee not some independent inventor working out of his garage:

      "Battelle recognized Russell's creativity and gave him time and a laboratory to develop his ideas, including a far-out system that would use a laser to read digitized music. In hindsight, Battelle let Russell's patents go for a song. It licensed them to a venture capitalist who formed a public company in 1980 to market the technology. That company ran out of money in 1985, and the patents went
  • Good, bad, ugly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:30PM (#11203530) Homepage
    OK, so in THIS case patents are BAD because someone else is making bank on this guys IP, but could have been GOOD if this guy had protected his IP, but than he and his patent would be BAD because he would have been making bank on his IP...
    • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#11203720)
      That's the entire problem with patents. They could be good for inventors. In theory. But the theory is wrong and it doesnt work out that way.

      Had he had the patent himself he wouldnt have been able to afford to file a lawsuit anyway. He'd be squashed like a bug by some large corp. His only chance would be to sell the patents to a litigation company, in which case he'd get a miniscule amount again...

      Patents do not make money for inventors. They make money for lawyers and they protect monopolies and oligopolies against inventors.

      • "Had he had the patent himself he wouldnt have been able to afford to file a lawsuit anyway. He'd be squashed like a bug by some large corp."

        why? what proof do you have this would happen? everybody says thae people get too much momney when they sue, then they say people can't sue. can't be both.

        many, many people have made money from patentining there product. Many individuas have fought corps and won. man, get real.

        This guy exchanged his IP rights for a regular pay check.

  • Justice?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by travisco_nabisco ( 817002 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:31PM (#11203539)
    This poor man gave us portable mass storage, in a form previously undreampt of, and now, most people don't even know who he is. Where is the justice in this world?
    • Plus, the glass recording disks are bad-ass. It's like something from the future made in 1974.

      I once took one of those clear spacer disks from a CD spindle and convinced a couple of the people in our office that they were a new type of CD. They thought the clear disk was the coolest thing until they tried to play it. I'd love to give them one of these and see their reaction.

  • Simple fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:32PM (#11203545) Journal
    Put a 5p (3c) tax on every CD and DVD sold from this date and all of it goes to him. He could live off that easily.

    Hell to the RIAA the grand total would be less then they're spend on lawyers to sue little girls each week.
  • Self-Gratification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:32PM (#11203547)
    He does get the self-gratification of having created something revolutionary. Not that that pays the bills, of course. He should be rewarded more than he has been, but isn't it also good that optical storage development has moved quicker without some of the restrictions it might have faced had the patents been effective forever?
    I'm not saying that patents are bad, but I also think it's good that they have limits. And I still think this guy should get more recognition.
    • Patents definitely ARE bad. It's a nice idea, but it doesn't work out in the real world. Like the most famous well intentioned idea -- communism -- it does nothing more than create an oppressive oligopoly.
  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:33PM (#11203556)
    Just look at this poor fellow. He lives at Bellevue! (Mental hospital)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:33PM (#11203557)
    The story of the guy, who invented the seat belt is the same.

    NONE of the safety concerned car manufacturers were willing to pay a dime to use seat belt, as long as they would have to pay for it. The year after the patent expired, suddenly everybody buckled up.

    I am not sure which is worst, the patent system or corporate greed.
    • Don't forget the "You Got Mail!" guy from AOL - he settled for a very (relatively) small one-time fee. Can you imagine how rich this guy would be if he got paid with royalties?

      I think it's the same story as the guy who did the "Yahoooooo" yodel as well. I could be wrong - somebody correct me if I am, please. :)
    • I am not sure which is worst, the patent system or corporate greed.

      The patent system. At least corproate greed drives some innovation, the patent system as it sits now is mostly used to block innovation (or even perceived innovation). Usually by corporate greed.

      Take the patent (armed monopoly enforcement) away and corproate greed loses a main tool in stifling innovation and advancement.

      You can't take away greed; corporate or otherwise.
  • Unfortunatelly, a lot of genius guys are in the same case: the man who discovered aspartame (Schlatter), the man who invented Tetris (Pazhitnov, never patented it because at the time intellectual property rights were not established in then communist Russia for private individuals...). I do think that in this case, patents are usefull because they can be seen as a reward for the usefull and good job done.
    • Zhores I. Alferov comes to mind. He got Nobel prize in physics [] for inventing laser diods some 40 years ago.
      A quote: Laser diodes built with the same technology drive the flow of information in the Internet's fibre-optical cables. They are also found in CD players, bar-code readers and laser pointers.
      If Alferov and Herbert Kroemer patented their ideas, they would be billionaires.
  • It goes to show... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:37PM (#11203591) Homepage Journal
    Patents and IP don't protect inventors, who have neither money nor time to go messing around with patents. (The more time you spend with bits of paper, the less time you've got to spend with actually doing something.)

    What it proves is that patents protect the fist to patent, even if there's "prior art". (If "prior art" counted, then the patents should never have been awarded, as this guy had working systems prior to the "invention" by the corporations who held the patents.)

    The ones with time and money are generally not the ones working their asses off doing the inventing. They can either sponge off their R&D workforce, or they can sponge off other inventors. The latter is cheaper, as they don't even have to pay wages, then.

    The research for patents is expensive and time-consuming. If your next meal depends on coming up with another idea and selling it, you probably aren't going to have either time or money to spend.

    Let's face it. The system is broken. Seriously broken. I don't know how best it could be fixed, but something needs to be done before it destroys the entire inventing subculture altogether.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      what this proves is you shuoldn't sign away your IP rights.
      And when someone does infringe, you go after them. If he had taken them to court when he first had the chanes, odds are you would have gotten a settlement.

      "The research for patents is expensive and time-consuming. If your next meal depends on coming up with another idea and selling it, you probably aren't going to have either time or money to spend."

      not nearly as bad as it was 15 years ago.
      It is not expensive to file a patent, so you can get close
  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:37PM (#11203597) Homepage
    You know, we complain when a company exerts market influence via patents...then we complain when a patent isn't enforced...I sense a logical inconsistency, here.

    Let me put on my "surprised" face.

    • by admiralh ( 21771 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#11203723) Homepage

      There's nothing logically inconsistent about the stances given the circumstances.

      Case 1: Company buys up many questionable patents for next to nothing, then hires a squadron of patent attorneys to try to extract royalties from whomever doesn't have the time/energy/money to fight them.

      Opinion: Questionable patents bad - companies greedy/stupid.

      Case 2: Inventor creates well-deserved patent which leads to multi-billion dollars of business for many companies and does not receive a cent of royalties, due to bad/greedy decisions by corporate management.

      Opinion: Well-deserved patents good - companies greedy/stupid.

      Where is this logical inconsistency again?

      • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @07:48PM (#11204273) Homepage
        Case 2: Inventor creates well-deserved patent which leads to multi-billion dollars of business for many companies and does not receive a cent of royalties, due to bad/greedy decisions by corporate management. Opinion: Well-deserved patents good - companies greedy/stupid. Where is this logical inconsistency again?

        Well we could begin with the fact that you completely misrepresent the starting conditions. Did you read the article? He did not develop the technology on his own, this was not a garage inventor. He was an employee doing research on company time on company equipment. The company, Battelle, owned his work and they got just as "screwed" as he did. Your "bad/greedy" characterization is naive. Good ideas are not enough, you need the resources to turn the ideas into products, and some good luck. A more realistic characterization was that the idea was too far ahead of its time.
      • The entire issue of patents can boil down to
        just a few generally accepted (/.) statements:

        (1) basic hardware patents are cool -- and
        probably far too short in duration.
        Nations that engage in patenting the
        application of innovation "shotgun
        method" in order to cover all possible
        future uses are not. (Japan comes to mind

        (2) software patents, particularly as implimented
        in the USA, are predominantly un-cool, and
        destructive. The entire notion of "prior
        art" has be
    • Logical inconsistency? This article shows that patents don't work when it comes to protecting a 'real-world' invention. They sure as hell don't work when it comes to protecting virtual ones.

      If this article underlines anything, it's that patents are flawed. Do you want to make money from an invention? Make sure you have the business know-how to make money by exploiting that invention.

      Patents didn't work for this lad or the Wright brothers, patents work for IBM, Microsoft, Sony, Philips and the like.

      • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee@ringofsatur n . c om> on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @07:42PM (#11204197) Homepage
        Funny you mention the Wright brothers.

        Patents most certainly DID work for them. They were some of the most litigious patent holders of the early part of this century.

        Some idiot judge decided that they should be awarded a patent on the notion of powered flight, rather than a patent on their mechanism for lateral stability. The Wrights proceeded to use that ridiculously over-broad patent to run other American companies (read: inventors) out of the airplane business.

        For many years, the only aircraft innovations were coming out of Europe. The Wrights were content to rest on their laurels (and their unstable and unreliable design), and attack anybody who tried to improve on the airplane as a patent infringer.

        Fortunately, the Feds finally put a stop to that when they apprehended the military utility of powered flight, and saw how the state of the art was progressing overseas.

        Ironically, one of the Wright's principal US competitors (Glenn Curtiss) a) built the Wrights' first motor, b) invented the layout of the airplane as we commonly know it today, and c) wound up owning the Wright aircraft company.

        So, in this case, it was a happy ending. The better innovator (Curtiss) won out in the end, and the Wrights died bitter.
        • Mod parent +1 Insightful

          I always thought that the Wright brothers died in bitterness due to others running off with their 'innovations' while not being able to enforce their patents. I wasn't aware that they did that so aggresively as to stall the entire US airplane market, and actually were very successful with it.

          Thanks for correcting me, next time I'll put the Wrights next to $BIGCORP instead.

    • It may surprise you to learn, slashdot is composed of more than two people.

      Different people, different opinions.
    • This is not a software patent, which is usually what is talked about as being "bad" on /.

      This is a patent on the material object, not a intellecutal process. They are considered different by many, especially since one has had patents for a *long* time, the other only a few years, and in limited areas (*cough* US *cough*). Optical media date back to before software patents existed.
    • Let us ignore for a moment that Slashdot is a community of thousands upon thousands of people, so you're being rather silly if you're expecting a consistent opinion to be held between the comments all these different people. The presence of multiple conflicting opinions on a discussion site is what's supposed to happen, not a flaw.

      If we for some reason assume there to be some kind of "patents are bad" party line on slashdot, it's certainly not out of place here. After all:

      Situation A: A company is not res
  • by Bronz ( 429622 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:39PM (#11203609)

    First -- yes, these stories are sad. But what about the flip-side? Here's a creative soul who was gainfully employed to pursue his own imagination. He was paid to be creative. The problem was his creativity wasn't bound by the context of viability ... by what is currently applicable. The patents were sold cheaply because there was no immediate use for them.

    This sounds harsh, but the way I see it he got paid to dream. Monetary compensation is only one way of keeping score and from my perspective this man is richer than most.

    Which begs the question -- did he lose salary for every failed invention? He probably had a lot of hair-brained flops in his tenure ... and I don't see mention on how those things that didn't develop should be compensated by himself just as any success is immediately rewarded.
    • Yes. This guy was equipped and paid by a company that never would have done so if it didn't get control of his inventions.

      The system isn't set up so much to reward people for ideas as much as it is to entice companies to pay the salaries of people like this. And that's as it should be - otherwise he might be working at the local hardware store.

  • Double standard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:39PM (#11203610) Homepage
    We're expected to feel sorry for this person who failed to retain full control of his intellectual property? We see the opposite situation all the time- people and companies go to great lengths to control their intellectual property. And we laugh in their face and actively thwart their efforts. What would you think of this man if he had cemented his position as the owner of optical digital storage and charged royalties from everyone for its use? If the Sorenson codec algorithm had slipped out onto the open market through a similar process?
    • RTFA. He didn't have a position to cement in the first place -- he had no legal claim to the patents, which were owned by the company that employed him. They screwed up with the patents, not him.
  • Given that patents do exist, and likely will continue, maybe there should be very different price scales for patents depending on whether it is a corporation, or an individual getting the patent. If the price were very high for buisnesses, we wouldn't see so much patent squating by businesses, and if it were cheaper, maybe we would see more by individuals....
    • by hsmith ( 818216 )
      there are different fee scales for patents, it is a lot more if you are a corporation compared to that if you are an individual.

      and if you are an individual, the patent office must assist you through the process. but if you plan on a return on your investment, you better damn well do research and not complain about it, if you want to complain, hire someone to do the research for you and file the patent. there are means and it isn't to difficult.
  • Whatever. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:44PM (#11203670) Journal
    As Macaulay said [] in 1841 (the example of Milton's granddaughter):
    If, Sir, I wished to find a strong and perfect illustration of the effects which I anticipate from long copyright, I should select,--my honourable and learned friend will be surprised,--I should select the case of Milton's granddaughter. As often as this bill has been under discussion, the fate of Milton's granddaughter has been brought forward by the advocates of monopoly. My honourable and learned friend has repeatedly told the story with great eloquence and effect. He has dilated on the sufferings, on the abject poverty, of this ill-fated woman, the last of an illustrious race. He tells us that, in the extremity of her distress, Garrick gave her a benefit, that Johnson wrote a prologue, and that the public contributed some hundreds of pounds. Was it fit, he asks, that she should receive, in this eleemosynary form, a small portion of what was in truth a debt? Why, he asks, instead of obtaining a pittance from charity, did she not live in comfort and luxury on the proceeds of the sale of her ancestor's works? But, Sir, will my honourable and learned friend tell me that this event, which he has so often and so pathetically described, was caused by the shortness of the term of copyright? Why, at that time, the duration of copyright was longer than even he, at present, proposes to make it. The monopoly lasted, not sixty years, but for ever. At the time at which Milton's granddaughter asked charity, Milton's works were the exclusive property of a bookseller. Within a few months of the day on which the benefit was given at Garrick's theatre, the holder of the copyright of Paradise Lost,--I think it was Tonson,--applied to the Court of Chancery for an injunction against a bookseller who had published a cheap edition of the great epic poem, and obtained the injunction. The representation of Comus was, if I remember rightly, in 1750; the injunction in 1752. Here, then, is a perfect illustration of the effect of long copyright. Milton's works are the property of a single publisher. Everybody who wants them must buy them at Tonson's shop, and at Tonson's price. Whoever attempts to undersell Tonson is harassed with legal proceedings. Thousands who would gladly possess a copy of Paradise Lost, must forego that great enjoyment. And what, in the meantime, is the situation of the only person for whom we can suppose that the author, protected at such a cost to the public, was at all interested? She is reduced to utter destitution. Milton's works are under a monopoly. Milton's granddaughter is starving. The reader is pillaged; but the writer's family is not enriched. Society is taxed doubly. It has to give an exorbitant price for the poems; and it has at the same time to give alms to the only surviving descendant of the poet.
    There's no proper change to patent law that would give this guy cash. No matter what, someone would have taken his patent just the same, and left him just as poor.

    That said, I didn't rtfa. But I highly doubt there's any legislative way we could have made this guy get real paid.
  • by monopole ( 44023 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:48PM (#11203708)
    I used to work for John Dove ( /24587.html) who also developed many of the critical technologies for the optical disk and also got completely reamed by Sony/Phillips even though he had patents. In fact he wanted to assign the patents to the Air Force but they refused to allow him to (this was a year or two before the advent of the laser).
  • y/dove_john.htm

    He held patents related to the CD as well. He actually got a few dollars and a early prototype Laser Disk from Phillips, not sure how much he REALLY got, not too much, as a government employee, esp when the government gave it away.

    He originally developed it as a replacement for paper tapes used for test data... Paper wasn't fast enough, was hard to manage, and buffering to memory was a no-op in those days.

    I once worked for the gentleman: Great fellow.
  • He should have made a deal with Philips Electronics to work in the Philips Research Laboratories which are all around the world.
  • To acknowledge this guy, we as /.'ers should set up a fund (I can donate a buck...even though xmas has left my funds slightly dry) and get him an award; Visionary Innovator or something. Hell, even name it after the guy. The Russell award.

    If the /. effect has taught us anything, swarms of ppl donating even a buck can swell into millions if not billions, enough to set up a trustee organization/foundation that can rival the Nobel Foundation.
  • by Greg@RageNet ( 39860 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @07:13PM (#11203912) Homepage
    never made a dime

    Yes, as an employee of Battelle I am sure he was compensated for his time working in their lab. He made whatever he negotiated as a salary.

    Oh, nevermind, I fell off the corp-bashing bandwagon again. corp bad, tree good, unless the tree is a bush, then it's bad. Somebody get this guy some socialized healthcare or something!

    -- greg

  • Let's be honest, this guy changed the face of computing. He knows that, now we know that. There are things better than financial reward, y'know.

    Maybe he didn't make any money directly off of what he did, but neither did Jesus, Gandhi, or Linus.
  • ...not only would this inventor be famous (the word "rich" is rather secondary indeed), but also every one of us would have up to thirty years of digital (quite possibly even: video!) recordings of the key moments in our lives, lacking which therefore is yet another true tragedy. As it seems, one more case to prove that the intellectual property regime as we know it is not always the best way to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts".
  • Never made a dime? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by siljeal ( 841276 )
    never made a dime

    Is that so? Was he working for free? I would assume that he was being paid for his work, and so I don't really see the problem. That he could have milked the system is really just an assumption that's built on the silly notion that every producer (especially foreign producers) will honor your patent, use the technology covered in the patent and pay fees. And we know that this is not always the case. The companies could avoid the patented technology or decide to use the technology and ta
  • And a nice guy too. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darth Muffin ( 781947 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @08:01PM (#11204454) Homepage
    And heck a heck of a nice guy and interesting to talk to also. I met him a few years ago at a friend's holday party--he's their landlord and neighbor. We had a mini geek-fest in the corner comparing our ipaqs.
    When I heard (from someone else in the room) that he invented the CD, I was just in awe. Very cool.
    He's into many other things also. He may not be rich like he deserves to be, but I can say he's living comfortably (he owns at least 2 properties that I know of) and is happy.
  • RIAA Target (Score:3, Funny)

    by kmahan ( 80459 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @08:02PM (#11204460)
    Now the RIAA knows who to blame(sue) for all of the evil evil CDs/DVDs that have enabled high-quality (digital) copying. He even admits to having downloaded (off the air) television shows (wonder if he skipped the commercials?) and also having ripped music.

    Note to the humor impared: the above was intended to be humorous.
  • Tim Berners-Lee recieved a Finnish Technology Award Foundation award to recognize his development of HTML. (1 million dollars) 341741 []
    I believe the part of the purpose of the award is to compensate those who benifitted the common good but did not make money off of it. []

    I wonder how people get nomiated?
  • My favorite paragraph:

    "Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, music aficionados went to extreme lengths to get high-quality sound from records. Russell was the sort who used cactus needles on his record player; they had to be hand-sharpened after each use, but the sound was better and they wouldn't wear out albums as fast as metal needles."

    That's what I'd call extreme lengths, alright.
  • This guy had a dream job where they pay you a salary, and give you access to resources and all they ask is for you to "just be inventive." Just throw this on the same pile as all the things that came out of Xerox PARC that didn't generate millions for the original inventor.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's