Patents and related Documents

This new section contains both copies of patents applied for by the Electrical Research Laboratory and documents related to patent issues which I found at the National Archives. In particular I was astounded at the volume and quality of Bob Mumma’s work. There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves much more recognition than he has received to date.

The volume of patentable work, produced from the years 1939-1949 by Joe Desch, Bob Mumma, Vince Gulden and their co-workers is fascinating, in my opinion, but has received little attention. NCR at the time was a patent workhorse; that is, patent applications were urged, expected and even demanded from engineers and those engaged in research. When the Navy “took over” the Electrical Research Laboratory in 1942 issues became far more complicated. In addition, the ambitions of Joe Desch, and certainly some of his staff, were frustrated by the legal issues accruing from the legalities of top secret projects incorporating advancements which then were governed by military law and could not be recognized or patented.

I know firsthand, from listening to my father describe the dilemma that it was one of the agravations that plagued him during the war and after. He could literally read at his desk that others, including the staff at the U. of Penn. had moved ahead during war time into the very areas he he had hoped to pioneer. This was one of the dearest costs of his following his sense of duty and his involvement with the war work.