Inventors and Patents From the City of Sacramento
The City of Sacramento’s Center for Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship is hosting a free public event this week to celebrate the accomplishments of local inventors. We’ll talk about the California Inventors Assistance Program, Andrew Jackson Beard’s rail car couplers, and Woods’ patents for railway devices.
California Inventors Assistance Program
The California Inventors Assistance Program is an initiative of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to provide free legal services to financially under-resourced small businesses and independent inventors. It is the largest patent pro bono program in the United States. Applicants can contact the USPTO to request information about available pro bono services.
The program matches inventors with California lawyers. It offers a variety of services, including a free monthly newsletter and a lending library of patent resources. Applicants may also apply to join the referral panel if they are a member of the California Bar. The program is available to California residents and is certified by the state bar.
The program will launch on October 23 and will offer free legal assistance to inventors in California. The California Lawyers for the Arts, Intel, and Fenwick & West have worked on the project. The United States Patent and Trademark Office and California Lawyers for the Arts have all contributed to the program’s steering committee.
The program’s eligibility criteria is simple: Applicants must be low-income and must have a total household income below three times the federal poverty guidelines. They must also have a demonstrated knowledge of the patent system. Inventors must also be willing to pay a placement fee and USPTO fees if they qualify for the program. LegalCORPS’s Inventor Assistance Program serves low-income inventors in six states.
Andrew Jackson Beard’s rail car couplers
Andrew Jackson Beard is an American inventor whose rail car couplers made it easier for railroad workers to connect and uncouple railroad cars. His invention was known as the Jenny Coupler, and it automatically joined the cars when they bumped together. This device helped ensure railroad workers’ safety, as they no longer had to stand between cars in order to drop the pin. Beard patented his invention and sold the patent rights for $50,000.
During the nineteenth century, railroad workers were not only losing time and money, but they were also suffering from accidents. Andrew Beard was a slave in his early life, but he was emancipated at the age of fifteen. After his freedom, he became an accomplished inventor who made his fortune.
In the 1890s, Beard patented several improvements to rail car couplers. His Jenny Coupler, for example, was an improvement on Eli Janney’s knuckle coupler, patented in 1873. In the previous era, railroad cars were hooked together manually with pins. Beard’s invention made it easier to connect and disconnect the cars with remote controls. It also prompted new legislation in the United States. In 1887, automatic rail car couplers were made illegal by the Federal Safety Appliance Act.
Andrew Jackson Beard was a talented blacksmith and farmer. He also studied mechanical systems, including engines. His patent for a rotary steam engine was granted on July 5, 1892. In the next 20 years, his invention would become a standard on every railroad in the United States. He also worked on the design of an automatic rail car coupler with Confederate veteran, Eli Janney. The invention was called the Jenny Coupler and became widely used.
As he worked on his inventions, Beard began investing his money into real estate. His investors in Birmingham backed him, and his efforts paid off. He eventually founded the Beard Automatic Coupler Company, and sold the rights to the coupler to a New York company for $50,000. Royalties from this sale made him the first black millionaire in Jefferson County. He also invested in real estate and a popular jitney service.
Woods’ patents for railway devices
Woods, a native of Columbus, Ohio, received several patents for railway devices. He invented an induction telegraph, an automatic brake system, and an overhead conducting system. His innovations helped improve the safety of the railroad cars and railroads. His later inventions were not able to be commercialized and he was forced to sell them to corporations with deep pockets. Although he won numerous patents, his final years were spent in virtual poverty. In court battles, he fought for control of his inventions.
Woods’ railway devices were used for the transportation of heavy loads. His inventions helped the railroad industry reduce air pollution. In the late nineteenth century, steam locomotives produced huge plumes of smoke and noise. In order to reduce the pollution, he invented a device that reduced noise. The device was later used on trains, and he patented it in 1879. The mechanism consisted of wooden boxes lined with cotton and sand to absorb sound and make the train quieter.
By the mid-1880s, the California Central Pacific had its first steam locomotive. This locomotive, known as the Governor Stanford, was bought from Richard Norris and Son in Philadelphia. However, most steam locomotives used by the Southern Pacific were made on the East Coast, at Cooke and Rogers in Schenectady, and at Baldwin Locomotive Works in Baldwin, New York. However, the Sacramento Shops had the ability to build quality steam locomotives. Between 1873 and 1889, the Shops produced more than 120 steam locomotives. The last of them, built for Southern Pacific president Leland Stanford, had a parlor, bedrooms, dining room, and porter’s room. It was also furnished with rosewood.
Woods’ railroad car couplers
The Sacramento Northern 1005 is a double-end, double-truck, arch-roof wooden interurban car. It has a steel underframe and is equipped with a smoking compartment, luggage room, and toilet. The end panels are clad in steel sheeting over wood siding.
The car spent most of its life outdoors because the Sacramento Northern did not have a car house. This was because of the chilly weather in California. In addition, the car had to be kept cool. There was no way to store it in a warehouse. The City of Sacramento purchased the car in 1922. The city subsequently gave the car to the National Railway Museum.