When I was doing some research for a recent ShopNotes article, I wanted to find out about the history of a tool. The first place I went was the United States Patent and Trademark Office web site. I was trying to track down the original inventor of a tool and I was generally interested in reading some of the old patent documents. But navigating the USPTO web site can be a challenge at times. What’s worse is that you have to have a TIFF reader installed on your system to be able to view the old patent documents.
Well, this morning, I found out about Google’s new Patent search. It’s in “beta” right now, meaning that they’re still testing it. But I checked it out and it’s pretty cool. You can type in a search term and it’ll pull up all the relevant patents. That means that somewhere in the Google technology, they’ve used character recognition to be able to search older patent documents. (You may also be interested in Google’s Book search, too.)
Just for grins and out of curiosity, I typed in “drill press” and found this patent issued in 1889 to Edward C. Stearns