Davenport Inventors: Patently the Best

Davenport has had its share of inventors over the years, including Alexander F. Victor, who held almost eighty patents for his film projecting equipment; William Voss, whose washing machines brought laundry to a whole new level, and Otto F. Rohwedder;* a Davenport native who created the first automatic, commercial-use bread-slicing machine.

In fact, more than four thousand patents were granted to Davenport inventors between 1856 and 2009—from Harvey Hughes and his brick press to Carl J. Franken and his “insulated ice compartment for bottom mount refrigerator with temperature control system.”

That’s a lot of inventions.

So how would one go about finding information about local works of genius, like the writing tablet that Charles Fluke patented in 1879?

We’re so glad you asked!

The Davenport Public Library is now serving as Iowa’s first patent and trademark resource center on behalf of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We are the eighty-first library in the country to become a PTRO, and the first all-electronic access repository in the country. And we’re pretty excited about it.

The website of the US Patent and Trademark Office allows patent searches to be done from any computer, but the Davenport library has a specific workstation that will provide access to an even more powerful database that allows different search parameters. This workstation is in the Special Collections Center.

This is a great opportunity for local inventors to search the country’s eight million patents in preparation for sending in their own applications . . . but we in Special Collections think it’s going to be a great local history resource as well!

*Who was living in Missouri at the time, but we’re claiming him anyway.

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