Gina Smith

Wild and crazy patents

Wild and crazy patents

Patent protection has been granted over the years to some truly off-the-wall ideas, including a hair comb-over and basmati rice. Some that seemed like shoo-ins at the time were later overturned, including the famed ENIAC computer.

Why tech vendors fund patent 'trolls'

Some of the largest names in the tech industry are funding patent 'trolls,' for protection from lawsuits and for access to the patent pool.

Moving to a start-up? Fasten your seat belt

There's a world of difference between corporate IT and the tech culture at a start-up. Four execs who made the jump tell you to expect long hours, little structure -- and, just maybe, greater job satisfaction.

Unsung innovators: Jean Bartik, ENIAC programmer

Jean Bartik was a member of the all-female team that programmed ENIAC, a computer that calculated bullet trajectories during World War II.

Unsung innovators: 10 people who shaped the computer industry

Chances are good that you'll know their work, but won't know their names. Let us introduce you.

Unsung innovators: Gary Thuerk, the father of spam

It seemed like a good idea at the time -- Thuerk says he thought of it as a type of "e-marketing" back when he hatched the idea in 1978.

Unsung innovators: Robert Kahn, the 'stepfather' of the Internet

He won't take full fatherhood credit for fear of winding up "in a cartoon somewhere," but Kahn was responsible for the initial system design of the Arpanet and helped convince Vint Cerf to come to work with him.

Unsung innovators: David Bradley, inventor of the "three-finger salute"

The inventor of a helpful way to shut down a PC safely calls it a "tiny little thing" that wasn't even originally designed with end users in mind.

Unsung innovators: Marty Goetz, holder of first software patent

Although Goetz sparked an argument over whether software patents should even be granted, his life's work has been about protecting software, he says.

Unsung innovators: Ted Nelson

It's been an imperfect revolution, Nelson says; he rues the state of the modern computer interface and wonders why hyperlinks work only in one direction.

Unsung innovators: Ray Tomlinson, who put the @ sign in every e-mail address

Just 29 years old at the time, Tomlinson says he was trying to figure out a way to send e-mail among people on different computers. In the early 1970s, e-mail was possible only between people using terminals connected to the same...

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