Throwback Thursday: Five Early Event-Industry Patents from the Wayback
Event production doesn’t exist in a bubble, but rather skates the edges of many different fields: stage design, audio-visual, marketing, catering, and a dozen other things, and its advancement has been dependent on the evolution of technology in its sister industries. This #tbt, we take a peek into a couple event industry patents from days past.
Stage Design & Effects
When the entertainment industry collided with the industrial revolution, new technologies were quickly incorporated into stage design and theatrical special effects. U.S. Patent number 1,332,918, filed in 1919 by Roy J. Pomeroy, is an awesome example of pre-digital machinery created to enhance performance visuals:
“My invention related to a new and useful improvement in a theatrical device where in a framework in the form of a hollow sphere is to be rotated and in which there is a stationary platform on which will be placed one or more dancers. The framework may all be painted various colors or part of the framework may be silvered and other portions of the framework my be shaded or colored so that when the sphere is rotated at two or three hundred revolutions per minute it will appear as if it were a huge bubble of a myriad of colors, in which an artist or a number of artists are seen to perform, and thereby provide a very spectacular effect.”
Food & Catering
One of the earliest examples of mobile catering as we know it is from this 1961 patent for improvements on the mobile catering truck. Though we know mobile catering was around long before this patent took effect, it was fraught with problems that this new design sought to solve.
…in managing trucks heretofore the operator would merely drop the side panels of the truck and stand back to collect as the customers crowd around trying to serve themselves. This results in inefficient operation and lost time in serving the customer…. [therefore] another object of the invention is to achieve more efficient control of catering truck operation by providing a truck with extendable cafeterial type table having a central opening in which an operator may stand while serving food.
Invitations & Ads
In the heyday of print advertising, clever design helped one event invitation stand out from the rest. This invitation card, created by Paul Furstenburg, leverages lo-fi human curiosity to drive engagement.
“The object of the invention if used as an advertising medium is to provide a device which may not only be readily forwarded through the mails, but which will, upon receipt, so arouse the curiosity of the addressee that he will give the article a second thought and peruse the same instead of immediately depositing the same in the waste-basket.”
Mobile Media Road Shows
In 1921, Swiss citizens Roger Juvet and Robert de Stoutz patented improvements in the “exhibition car”, an invention which “provides a car for exhibiting goods and samples without repacking consecutively at different mercantile and industrial centers situated at a distance from each other.”
Portable pop-up display stands are a staple of trade shows and expo halls today. But while the idea seems pretty straightforward, these types of displays weren’t actually invented until the portability craze of the mid-1970’s. It began around 1972-73 with Gerry Welton’s “display apparatus for exhibiting at trade shows and the like”, and in 1974, Theodore Zeigler filed his first patent, number 3,968,808, a “collapsible, self-supporting structure … made up of a network of rod elements pivotally joined at their ends and forming scissors-like pairs”.
Zeigler would later go on to found Nomadic Display, one of America’s leading expo display firms, and – fun fact! – a Decibel Management vendor.