This Sunday I have a feature article coming out in Solares Hill on T.E. Murray, a forgotten inventor, who has finally been inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame for one of 462 patents that electrified New York city. This was an egregious oversight and needed to be corrected granting Murray his proper place in American history.
My upcoming article chronicles the efforts of the Murray, Cuddihy & MacGuire family to gain T.E. Murray (1860-1929) entry into these hallowed halls. By all accounts Sean MacGuire, his great- great grandson and himself the holder of two patents (the second one came in yesterday – I’m not kidding) and 8 patents pending was the driving force behind this successful induction.
If it wasn’t done now – a century after the fact – his work would be in danger of being lost to history.
The first reception and dinner was held at the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum on the campus of the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA.
NPR emcee Neal Conan hosted one-on-one chats with Inductees and Inductee representatives. Sean spoke about how little was known about Murray and the struggle to have him recognized. How was it possible that his work had been forgotten when the American flag flew at half-mast at Waterside upon news of the death of Murray on July 21, 1929?
The talk ended with Neal Conan commenting on Sean’s newly minted patent, remarking that this was the first time a patent had ever been allowed (patents are allowed before being granted) during the actual event.
There’s no question in Sean’s mind that T.E. Murray himself was behind that bit of handiwork.
Here’s Sean with Martin Hellman – “I was willing to risk appearing foolish and was lucky enough to end up being one of the inventors of public-key cryptography,” said Martin Hellman, professor emeritus of electrical engineering.
The journeys of inductees share a theme – perseverance, and a healthy disregard for the opinions of others.
Amongst others, we sat next to Lloyd Conover, inventor of tetracycline.
But no matter how grand, the dinner was still chicken. Fancy chicken, but chicken nontheless!
And a gorgeous bouquet from which I plucked a single yellow rose to dry.
We had conversations with the families of Bernard Silver (who died in 1963) and Joe Woodland, inventors of the first optically scanned barcode in 1948 – a technology now ubiquitous all over the world.
And I also met Gary K. Michelson, inducted this year for his pioneering work on spinal surgical devices. Here he is with guest.
Here’s Sean outside the Smithsonian preparing for the second dinner at The Portrait Gallery.
Here are the tables being set up the second dinner – this time at the Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian. This was the most fabulous event I have ever attended.
Party guests – I love her gold silk outfit and flapper-style beads. After all the intellectual back-and-forth, I was happy for fashion, color and style. There is always room for a little showiness, I always say.
Here’s a snap of the winner of “most gorgeous couple” of the evening.
One of the most stylish dresses – in a daring yellow.
This project is a long time in the works. It began sometime in 2006 or so when Sean discovered how many patents his great grandfather had and set about getting his life’s work recognized.
The National Inventor’s Hall of Fame requires that the inventor be cited for one patent only so it was tough deciding which Murray patent he would have chosen for himself. Here’s the screenshot from the ceremony at the Smithsonian with patent #920,613
|18-Jul-1907||920613||ELECTRIC SAFETY FUSE|
To see all his patents, including this one, go to the website that Sean created for his great-great grandfather.
Some of the evenings highlights: Films of inductees Ralph Merkle, Whitfield Diffie and Mark Hellman – Public Key Cryptography – when they were working on the invention.
Whit Diffie discussing the patent system and his biggest supporter, his wife.
Rini Paiva, Executive Director of the NIHOF sat at our table. She held up beautifully under the fire of relentless quizzing – vivacious and funny, they are lucky to have her – and so were we.
The ceiling was an architectural marvel.
People milling about, before dinner is served.
Finally we repaired to the hotel across the street and snapped this family shot of the induction certificate.
Again the company was awesome – iconoclasts – the best thinkers that America has to offer. Murry says it simply and best – “Let me tackle the job which the other fellow says cannot be done.”