A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2018 Oct 18, 12:41 -0700
Sean C you wrote: "Do you [or does anyone] think that this spirit of competition outweighed the possibility of becoming "famous" (albeit in a very limited way) by having one's name attached to a particular innovation?"
I don’t think you can generalise. Everybody is different. In my experience most people at working level wanted no more than to be recognised by their colleagues as a competent operator in their particular field. Obviously, with an invention of world shattering importance such as the jet engine it would be a different proposition.
You also wrote: "did sailors, soldiers, marines or airmen such as them stand the chance to profit from their inventions?"
There are two ways of dealing with innovation by government employees. Most Services have award schemes. If you’ve developed an idea mainly in Service time using mainly Service equipment and facilities, you can apply for an inventors award if the idea is taken up. This will rarely be more than a few £100s, but you are free from any associated legal niceties. Major inventions might produce more, but usually long afterwards. Sir Frank Whittle reportedly received £100,000 for his work developing the turbojet engine, but not until 20 years after he first put the idea forward and after he had retired from the RAF. If you’ve worked mainly in your own time with your own equipment, you can go down the patenting route. If something really catches on, then there is the chance that moderate wealth might follow, but you also gain a whole load more administrative and legal worries. Whittle took this route initially but allowed the patent to lapse in 1935. So did Booth and Smith at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in 1919 with the sextant bubble chamber. Whether they made any money from it, I know not. Numerous small inovations with respect to aircraft sextants were developed in the 30s and early 40s in both the UK and the US, but sorting out the patent infringements probably made as much money for the lawyers as the manufacturers. You might like to read what Deborah Warner had to say about this http://www.artefactsconsortium.org/Publications/PDFfiles/Vol5Mil/5.07.Military-Warner,SextantsGr75ppiFFFWEBF%20-%20Copy.pdf DaveP