Discovering the Creative Genes of an Inventor in the Family

In my full-time job, I sometimes search the patent literature for background information and evidence of prior art.

Patent 5,805,278

While searching the database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, I unexpectedly found a family member. My cousin, Joe Danko, has been awarded a number of patents, including:

  1. 6,879,391  Particle detection method and apparatus
  2. 6,774,991  Method and apparatus for inspecting a patterned semiconductor wafer
  3. 6,621,570  Method and apparatus for inspecting a patterned semiconductor wafer
  4. 5,805,278  Particle detection method and apparatus
  5. 5,659,390  Method and apparatus for detecting particles on a surface of a semiconductor wafer having repetitive patterns
  6. 5,325,174  Integrated optic gyro with one Bragg transducer
  7. 5,022,760  Compound resonator for improving optic gyro scale factor

I have to admit that the details of most of these patents are beyond my experience and understanding, but I am nonetheless impressed by how my cousin Joe has developed and expressed his Creative Genes. What little I know about the first five patents listed above is that Joe’s inventions are used to inspect computer chips, and may even have been used to inspect the chips used in my own computer.

The US Patent and Trademark Office database provides not only references to these patents but also provides online images of patents from 1790 to the present. Patents from 1790 through 1975 are searchable only by Issue Date, Patent Number, and Current US Classification, but patents from 1976 to the present are searchable by full-text, including name of inventor.

After finding these patents for my cousin Joe, I searched for the surnames of my ancestors, and I found patents issued to inventors with the surnames Niedzialkowski, Jara, Sowa, Chotkowski, Dziura, and Mossakowski. Who knows? Some of these inventors may also be distant cousins.

The patent database provides still another opportunity for reporting the results of our genealogical research. Throughout history, our ancestors have been greatly affected by the Creative Genes of others. Inventions such as the sewing machine, the electric lamp, the telephone, the zipper, aspirin, and the phonograph revolutionized the way our ancestors lived.

Take a look at Jim Bieberich’s Historical U.S. Patents site to find the patent numbers of the inventions that influenced the lives of your ancestors.  Then, search the U.S. Patents and Trademark database to obtain a copy of the original patent.

Information on the inventions that our ancestors embraced with awe and wonder can add color and depth to the stories of our ancestors’ lives.

Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko

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One Response to Discovering the Creative Genes of an Inventor in the Family

  1. Cheryl Palmer says:

    Great information! Great article! Congrats on your unexpected findings!

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