$78,800 Offered by Industries for Ideas (Jun, 1924)

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$78,800 Offered by Industries for Ideas

Nationally Known Industries Co-operate to Awaken Inventive Genius of Country

EVERYONE has inventive ability because every man, woman and child at some time or other has ideas which they put to practical use to save time, abolish drudgery or to add to their own happiness. But, because of lack of appreciation of their value, many such ideas lie unused and forgotten to the loss both of the inventor and humanity to whom they might have proved of inestimable value.

More than a year ago Popular Mechanics Magazine conceived the idea of the Industrial Award Plan to awaken and concentrate the enormous undeveloped inventive forces of the country to aid in the solution of unsolved problems of industry. This idea has been carefully worked out and the details-in the following pages are the result.

Every branch of modern industry constantly is facing new problems that cry for solution and every advance made only opens up further fields of research, as Gerard Swope, president of the General Electric company, declared recently. Although scarcely fifty years ago there was nothing electrical in industry, he says, no generators, motors, transmission lines, lights, communication, or traction, today electricity is doing the work of 170,000,000 men and every step forward has opened more highways for achievement and success. To meet these conditions, to bring together the manufacturer and the inventor, to promote a better understanding between the two and to arouse and direct the undeveloped inventive genius of the world along the most profitable lines, Popular Mechanics Magazine has obtained the co-operation of several of the nation’s leading industries who have outlined some of their problems and offered tangible cash rewards for satisfactory solutions. While it is true that a few of these problems have defied the efforts of expert engineers, history records that many of the greatest inventions have been the work of men with little or no technical training who therefore were unhampered by tradition or prejudice. Pasteur, who discovered antitoxin, was not a doctor. Bell, who invented the telephone, was not an electrician. Morse, father of the telegraph; was a portrait painter.

Charles M. Schwab, the steel master who started life carrying a water pail, declares that hardly anything that the human mind can conceive is impossible of accomplishment. Edison was a train “butcher”; Whitney was only visiting in the south when he conceived the idea of the cotton gin; Goodyear, after years of toil, found the way to vulcanize rubber by accidentally dropping a piece of gum on a hot stove lid. In fact, chance has played a leading role in epoch-making discoveries that touch the life of everyone.

Who, for instance, conceived the notion of dropping aniline dye in water and selling it as violet ink ? Somebody dyed cloth a wrong color, and washed it with alum in a vain effort to correct the error. After it was dry someone else tried to wash the material but could not even wet it. So waterproofing was invented. The glazing of pottery also was discovered by chance. A servant girl fell asleep while watching a pot of boiling brine. When she woke up

she found the pot was glazed. The man who put the hump in the hairpin made thousands of dollars just by the flash of thought. The inventor who thought of pointing the ordinary wood screw got more for that idea than many a man has earned by working hard all his life. Soft glue used for making printers’ rollers was discovered by accident. Lithography also was the result of chance. Repeatedly, THE MAN WHO DID NOT KNOW IT COULDN’T BE DONE has won out after experts have failed.

With all these things in mind, Popular Mechanics Magazine has found business men ready to co-operate with the Industrial Award Plan. They have offered $78,800 for your ideas, outlined their problems and now stand ready to pay the awards to the persons who send them satisfactory solutions. None of the offers are limited to subscribers or to those who buy the magazine from newsdealers. Anyone can take advantage of the opportunity. Do not hesitate to send in your ideas concerning any particular problem simply because you know nothing of the technicalities involved. You may have the right idea—the manufacturer can hire men capable of working out the details.

As the object of the Industrial Award Plan is to bring together the manufacturer and the inventor, Popular Mechanics Magazine obviously cannot act as a judge, all negotiations being left directly to those offering the awards and those submitting ideas. Our part ends when we have told you what the industries desire. A few of the problems follow, others will be printed in subsequent issues:

Yellow Cab Manufacturing Co
No. 1—$50,000—Traffic Safety

The Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company, supplying vehicles to 815 yellow cab operating companies in the United States, offers an award of $50,000 for a perfected plan, including regulations, mechanical devices, etc., for the promotion of greater street safety in the cities of this country. This offer expires May 1, 1925.

The plan of traffic and pedestrian correction and regulation must be of such caliber as to recommend its adoption by at least two of the six largest cities of the United States and must have basic qualities suitable for improvement of traffic management in cities of any size.

The successful solution must materially supplement any suggestions grouped in such comprehensive traffic plans as have been made public before the first publication of the present offer. Address Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company, 5801 West Dickens Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Lyon and Healy, Inc.
No 2—$10,000—Musical Instrument

Lyon and Healy will undertake the manufacture of an entirely new and original design of musical instrument that can be made in their piano factory, banjo and guitar factory or their band instrument factory. The design may be very simple or it may be an elaborate one. It must be a genuine musical instrument to be

considered and must be such that it will be welcomed into the ranks of orchestra or brass band players. To the inventor of an instrument which gains the indorsement of this organization, the donor offers the following terms: They will enter into a contract to make and sell the instrument and will award the inventor royalties from the sales until such time as the royalties aggregate the sum of $10,000, when they shall cease and the instrument and all patents covering same shall become the sole property of Lyon and Healy, incorporated.

No entrants connected in any way with Lyon and Healy will receive any consideration in this offer. The instrument must be submitted as a working model, so the committee can judge of its value as an addition to the present family of musical instruments. No ideas, plans, sketches or blueprints will receive consideration. We must have a playable model. This offer ends May 1, 1925. Examining committee will consist of W. F. Kirk and H. H. Windsor, editor of Popular Mechanics Magazine. Address W. F. Kirk, 4110 Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Everhot Manufacturing Co.
No. 3—$500—Mechanical Improvement

The Everhot Manufacturing Company, making a gasoline-heated blowtorch and soldering and branding iron combined, will pay $500 for the best suggested improvement on its product that meets the requirements and is adopted by this concern.

No. 3A—$200—Best New Use

This firm will also pay $200 for the best suggested new use received before May 1, 1925, the date these offers expire. In addition to the above, cash payments, in proportion to their value to us, will be given for all suggestions having reference to the production, distribution, and use of our products, not already known to us, and which we will adopt. Address Everhot Manufacturing Company, Maywood, Illinois.

Problem Number AM-1
No. 4—$500—Preventing Waste of Zinc

In operating a brass foundry there is a considerable loss of zinc at the furnaces. Zinc oxidizes freely and while being melted, oxidizes and passes off in the form of a white cloud in the air. It is obnoxious to workmen and frequently causes illness. The loss of zinc that escapes thus is variously estimated at from three to ten per cent. If any way could be devised whereby this zinc oxide could be saved and reduced to the metallic state again, it would mean a great gain. This donor will pay $500 for a practical solution of the problem, and one which they would adopt. This offer will end May 1, 1925. Address Problem Number AM-1, Popular Mechanics Magazine, Chicago, Illinois.

John J. Harris and Company
No. 5—$1,000—Waterproofing and Sales

This concern makes paste known as “Bull Grip” having practically universal application as an adhesive. It can be used as a library paste, a glue, a cement and a mucilage. The adhesive and cohesive properties of the compound are exceedingly strong. It will cause a thin strip of metal to adhere so strongly to a piece of wood that it will sustain the weight of several hundred pounds, and will cause like substances to cohere powerfully. We desire the best way to market the product in wholesale quantities among manufacturers who can make use of it. We also wish an economical method of making the paste waterproof.

John J. Harris and Company will pay $500 for a solution for each of these problems accepted by them, and which is received prior to May 1, 1925, when the offer will end. Address John J. Harris and Company, 4035 West Kinzie Street, Chicago, Illinois.

Benjamin Electric Mfg. Co.
No. 6—$250—Making Electric Stand Lamps

For the most practical and workable method, as determined by our engineering department, by which Benjamin stand lamp clusters can be anchored to standard forms of vases, urns, etc., including covering and finishing of openings, thus converting them to electric stand lamps, we shall pay $250.

No. 6A—$150—Lamps from Old Vases

For the most practical and workable method, as determined by us, of attaching Benjamin stand lamp clusters to vases, urns, etc., with the aid of ordinary materials usually found among stocks of electrical contractors and lamp dealers, $150 will be paid.

No. 6B—$100—Advertising Plan

For the best scheme or method by which electric lamp dealers can stimulate the business of converting vases, urns, old lamps, etc., to modern electric lamps, using the Benjamin stand lamp clusters, we shall pay $100. This calls for a workable, concrete sales promotion idea which will attract customers desiring old vases, etc., made into electric lamps. These three offers close May 1, 1925. Address, Advertising Dept., Benjamin Elec. Mfg. Co., 847 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Illinois.

Problem Number LR-2
No. 7—$5,000—What Shall We Manufacture?

A splendidly equipped factory manufactures bent wood rims similar to those on wheels of bicycles. Facilities and special machinery permit of a large increase oyer our present production. We can manufacture in sizes from 14 inches to 25 inches out-to-out diameter, and in cross section, any shape that can be made from 1-1/2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Possibly someone could invent a product in which these rims could be incorporated or an existing product could be improved to use these rims. For a bona fide plan or proposition that will solve our problem and one that we would adopt, we shall pay $5,000 when the idea has proved successful and satisfactory within a reasonable time. Offer expires May 1, 1925. Address Problem Number LR-2, Popular Mechanics Magazine, Chicago, Illinois.

Ilg Electric Ventilating Co.
No. 8—$5,000—Uses for Ventilating Fans

We will pay a total of $5,000 for ideas suggesting novel and practical uses of llg motor propeller fans with automatic shutters, Ilg blowers and Ilg unit heaters.

In paying for suggestions their value will be determined by novelty, and usefulness ; the more widely the suggestion can be used, the more we shall pay for it. The amounts to be paid for suggestions will probably range from $100 to $1,000. All suggestions will be looked over carefully and those that cannot merit payment will be returned ; those adopted will be paid for promptly. We will be sole judges in determining the suggestions that are useful and their value to us. Offer ends May 1, 1925. Address Ilg Flectric Ventilating Company, 2850 North Crawford Avenue, Chicago, Ill.

Jahn & Oilier Engraving Co.
No. 9—$500—What Is “Relief” or “Dry Effect”?

Frequently on plates developed in pyro-soda, photographers find shadows raised in relief. This occurs more with wet plates, than when making a Velox print. A piece of glass is coated with albumen so the film will not wash off the plate, and left to dry. Then it is covered with collodion, which “sets,” and is put into a silver nitrate bath to sensitize. Exposure is made while the plate is wet, and after washing, it is “fixed” in a cyanide of potassium bath to clear away undeveloped silver.

After fixing, it is intensified by immersion in a solution of sulphite of copper, washed and placed in a nitrate of silver solution. (Some claim this operation is the cause of dry effect.) Following intensification, the negative is bleached with a solution of iodine made soluble with iodine of potassium and water. It is then cleared in a weak bath of cyanide of potassium to bring out the tones. Washing, and bleaching with sodium sulphide follows. Some such negatives are treated with a solution of mercury and blackened with ammonia sulphide, washed, and a weak mixture of nitrate acid used to clear any stains left by ammonia sulphide. A solution of rubber dissolved in either benzol or gasoline is applied after the plate dries. Over this a coating of collodion is placed, which consists of alcohol, ether, gun cotton and castor oil. The film is separated from the glass by immersing in water for a few minutes. It is then stripped to a glass plate and printed on sensitized copper. It is here that the dry effect shows. For a process that will eliminate “dry effect” successfully, we will pay $500.

No. 9A—$500—Color Separation

A cover of this magazine is reproduced in four-color process from an original water-color drawing. The inks used in printing are yellow, red, blue and black, requiring four different plates. When photographing the original drawing, filters are used in front of lenses to separate colors. For the yellow plate, a purple filter is used to eliminate blues, purples and magenta reds and to emphasize yellows, orange and yellow green. An orange filter is used for the blue plate to strain out all red, orange and yellow and to strengthen blue, green and cold colors. Greenish yellow filters are employed to make black plates, eliminating a little of all colors and emphasizing blacks or near blacks. Last, for the red plate, a green filter is used, eliminating green and near green and giving strength to red, pink, deep orange and violet. Dry plates and emulsions have not proved entirely satisfactory, especially for the plates and filters for the red. We will pay $500 for a perfect improvement on these processes.

No. 9B—$500—Etching Process

In making a halftone plate our greatest problem is to get a true and absolute photographic reproduction of the copy. By staging and fine etching, you could turn out a more or less mechanical reproduction and lose photographic values. A high negative could be made and staging done away with, but you would lose in the middle tones and light middle tones, and again lose copy value. If we could turn out a finished plate and a true reproduction of copy, in a one-depth “bite” (of the etching acid), it would result in a great saving in present cost. Offers 9, 9A and 9B expire May 1, 1925. For such a process, we will pay $500, Address Jahn & Oilier Engraving Company, 554 West Adams Street, Chicago, Illinois.

The Imperial Brass Mfg. Co.
No. 10—$500— Electric Iron Attachment

Design—An electric heating element that will operate successfully and interchange with the base and cover of the Imperial self-heating gasoline iron. For an accepted design we shall pay the designer $500. The Imperial Brass Manufacturing Company will arrange to send entrants irons at factory cost and refund such deposit, if and when the iron is returned in perfect condition, within a reasonable time. The closing date of this offer is May 1, 1925. Address Imperial Brass Manufacturing Company, 1200 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Illinois.

Bassick Manufacturing Co.
No. 11—$100—Chamois Skin Waste

In cutting out chamois skin pieces for use in our gasoline strainer, scraps are left after trimming the center from sheets averaging about 6 by 12 inches square. We will pay $100 for a plan, process or method of profitably disposing of these scraps, adopted by us. Offer ends May 1, 1925. Address Bassick Manufacturing Company. 2650 North Crawford Avenue, Chicago, Ill.

Liquid Carbonic Company
No. 12-$1,000-Additional Uses of Product

The Liquid Carbonic Company will pay $1,000 for the discovery of a new use for carbon dioxide gas or for improvements to present uses that will produce for the company additional gas sales of at least 200,000 pounds a year.

No. 12A-$1,000-Freeze-Proof Soda Cooler

This concern will pay $1,000 for an automatic freeze-proof soda or water cooler for soda fountains, this cooler to have sufficient capacity to care for average two-hour peak load of fifteen gallons of water and soda per hour and to be proof against freezing during normal overnight no-load periods- This cooler must be adaptable to either the so called “iceless” type or mechanically refrigerated soda fountains where the cooling will be derived from liquid medium at average temperature of ten degrees above zero. All designs subject to sole judgment of this company. Both our offers will end May 1, 1925. Address Liquid Carbonic Company, 3100 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

National Lumber Mfrs’ Assn.
No. 13—$2,000—Salvaging Waste

The united lumber industry through its agency, the National Lumber Manufacturers’ Association, offers an annual award of $2,000 in a series of payments for the best, most constructive and most practical suggestions for salvaging the lumber which, for one reason or another, drops out of sight and is lost somewhere between the time the tree is cut and the time the lumber reaches the consumer. Address National Lumber Manufacturers’ Association, Washington, D. C.


1 All offers of awards made, and all solutions of problems submitted, are subject to these terms and conditions, except where they are in conflict with or modified by the terms of the offer. In that case the offer controls.

2. The one offering the award is hereinafter called the “Donor,” and the one submitting a solution the “Entrant.”

3. All proposed solutions shall be mailed or delivered as directed in the offer.

4. The donor shall pay the award to the entrant who submits a solution of donor’s problem which is complete, practical and economically sound and satisfactory, to, and not already known to, the donor.

5. The donor shall have the period of one year from the receipt of any proposed solution to pass upon it, and, in case it be regarded as a partial solution, to agree with the entrant as to the amount of the award. During that one-year period the entrant shall not offer or submit said solution, or any part thereof, to any one else.

6. If the donor shall not have paid the whole or any part of the offered award mutually satisfactory to any entrant within said one-year period, unless entrant agrees to an extension of time, the donor shall return to such entrant by mail the solution submitted by him. If the entrant had the right to submit such solution, donor shall make no use of such or the information given, provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall prevent the donor from using any solution, idea, device or information which donor knew about and had the right to use before the receipt by the donor of such entrant’s solution.

7. Any patent on, or any patentable feature of any entrant’s solution accepted and paid for as herein provided, shall belong to the donor, and entrant shall assign to the donor any such patent already issued and any invention for such a patent on which applications shall have been made. And entrant, at donor’s request shall execute all such applications, assignments and other documents as may, in donor’s judgment, be necessary or expedient for the purpose of obtaining a patent on entrant’s solution, or any feature thereof, such patent to be issued in the name of, and to be the sole property of the donor.

8. Popular Mechanics Magazine shall receive no fees or commissions, directly or indirectly, for publishing any offer made through this department, nor for anything it may do in connection therewith. And the publisher is not and shall not be held responsible for the performance of any obligation either of a donor or an entrant. The publisher’s responsibility ceases with the publication of the offer.

  1. Stannous says: September 24, 20077:55 pm

    I think that all the inventors shown either developed their most famous creations after they were already well-known: Franklin, Whitney, Howe, Edison, or went from near-obscurity to sudden and huge success: Wright brothers, Morse, McCormick, Bell, Marconi.

    And I wonder if someone got $100 for suggesting using chamois scraps to apply car wax.

  2. KHarn says: March 2, 20086:44 pm

    There is a letter in the Louisiana historical records dated 1779 when Whitney was SIX YEARS OLD that describes a cotton gin. Also, in Witney’s own account, he said that his would jam untill a Southern woman positioned her hairbrush in the device to clean the “teeth”!
    There is a sewing machine in the British industrial mesueum from the 1790s and a Georgia doctor made SIX sewing machines for some local women four years before Howe pattented his design.
    So it seems that these two men DIDN’T invent those things, they just PATENTED them!

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