Inventing is bringing life to an idea, taking the amorphous, nebulous stuff of our gray matter and giving it three dimensional form. To invent is to excite the power of a creator in each of us. To experience that moment of Ah-hah! is to hold lightning in one hand and a ball of clay in the other. I have had the fortune of innumerable moments such as this, some of which come to fruition in the form of a drawing, wood, metal, plastic, or computer software.
I present here a snapshot of my inventions and innovations. Most were simple, fun ideas not worthy of mass production, or my attempt to bring them to market was ill timed, underfunded, or both. I look back and see clearly that my highest creative output was during my years at Arizona State University, College of Architecture & Environmental Design where I completed my five year degree in Industrial Design. That was an incredible time for me, every day spent thinking in three dimensions, sketching, and building prototypes. Over the weekends I lived in my parents’ garage, little thought given to the heat of the Phoenix days or chill of the desert nights, for I was designing, building, and tinkering.
From 1999 through 2008 my every waking moment was given to the challenge of running a software development company. I didn’t realize until after I sold Terra Soft how much I had lost my free-flowing creativity. Innovation took a new form, my creativity leveraged to survive, sometimes thrive under the burden of sales, management, and competition in ever shifting markets. Once free, I vowed to regain what once came so naturally to me–creativity expressed in physical form.
In early December of 2008 I loaded a file cabinet drawer and large cardboard box into my car, my life of invention sketches, drawings, and prototypes in transport. An hour later I arrived at my patent attorney’s office in Denver. To Rick’s surprise, I covered the entire conference table with a scattering of ideas. Laughing, he crossed his arms over his chest and said, “Well, I’ve never had a client bring an entire file drawer of inventions to me. Sit down! You want a beer?”