THE AUTOMAT

From the hall of ersatz messages, we walked around the corner to the authentic original temple of modern dining, the Automat.

Long before McDonald’s and Burger King moved from strip mall paradises out on Highway 50 in Orlando to urban centers near Grand Central, Horn & Hardart had reigned supreme as America’s original fast food restaurant. Like the post office, the walls were covered with tiny glass windows displaying Salisbury steak, sandwiches, macaroni & cheese, pudding, or slices of cherry pie, all fed by kitchen staff behind the wall. After inserting either coin or token into the slot and turning the handle, you could raise the window and take out the delicacy.

There was also a cafeteria line if you had more time to wait.

THE BIGGER IDEA (AND ME AS WINGBOY)

Everyone has a shining moment. My Dad’s bears repeating. He really slayed it!

So Dad got the idea for a fantastic business related to patent filings and infringements, kind of an amalgam between legal and IT but not a legal practice, strictly speaking. As I am able to remember it, he had become friendly with Ed Greer, who was head patent counsel for the Union Carbide Corporation. Union Carbide was one of the biggest chemical corporations of the day and was headquartered in their own magnificent skyscraper two blocks up Park Avenue from the Pan Am Building.

It was a probably a simple matter for Dad to put it together that large corporate patent owners could benefit from some form of computer calendaring.
Keep in mind that a large company like Union Carbide owned a large portfolio of patents. They would initially file patent applications in the home country, USA for Union Carbide. And as they were a large multinational corporation selling their wares everywhere, once the patent applications were accepted here at home, they would then engage in an international filing program elsewhere, typically the largest 15 countries in Western Europe and then Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and maybe Brazil and South Africa to boot.

A KNIFE AND A FORK IN A BOTTLE WITH A CORK THAT SPELLS NEW YORK

Fifth and Madison Avenues around 47th Street in the late 1960s were chock a block with small tawdry electronics stores.  Many of these shops still exist today in midtown.  Now however half of their shelves are filled with NYC tourist gimcrack like tee shirts, license plates, and miniature statuettes of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

But back then, they almost always showcased a device in the window touted to be a “Pocket TV.”  To me it was the Holy Grail of futurism – a television you could keep in your pocket.  As you can see in the above picture, it was about half the size of carton of cigarettes, a little wider.  So technically, it was a completely portable TV, as long as you had a huge-ass pocket and an extra long extension cord.  Another drawback was the teeny screen, about 1½ inches in diameter.  The engineers who designed the thing affixed a magnifying lens to present a bigger image to the eye.  But it should be readily apparent that the tech recipe was overcooked any which way you looked at it.  I’m willing to bet that nobody got rich designing and manufacturing this thing.

At the time, I couldn’t care less about these shortcomings.  Every time we passed by any electronics shop on the way to the Automat or Bohack’s, I could immediately spot one in the window.  I would stop and point at it, just like an Irish Setter at a duck in a pond, and Dad would jolt me out of it, lugging me on towards our destination.  As explained in my post IS NOTHING SACRED?, I was helplessly attracted to any aspect of futurism.  It was in my DNA.

THE BIGGER IDEA (AND ME AS WINGBOY)

So Dad got the idea for a fantastic business related to patent filings and infringements, kind of an amalgam between legal and IT but not a legal practice, strictly speaking.   As I am able to remember it, he had become friendly with Ed Greer, who was head patent counsel for the Union Carbide Corporation. Union Carbide was one of the biggest chemical corporations of the day and was headquartered in their own magnificent skyscraper two blocks up Park Avenue from the Pan Am Building.

It was a probably a simple matter for Dad to put it together that large corporate patent owners could benefit from some form of computer calendaring.

Keep in mind that a large company like Union Carbide owned a large portfolio of patents. They would initially file patent applications in the home country, USA for Union Carbide. And as they were a large multinational corporation selling their wares everywhere, once the patent applications were accepted here at home, they would then engage in an international filing program elsewhere, typically the largest 15 countries in Western Europe and then Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and maybe Brazil and South Africa to boot.