I've been an inventor my whole life but for the first 30 years I didn't know it... I just thought everyone invented stuff. It took me a long time to start calling myself an "Inventor". Every time I walked up to an immigration officer of some country I'd say I was an "executive" or a "CEO" but after two years of full time inventing in 2007 I "bit the bullet" and gave in...
"So you are an inventor? What have you invented?" and then the story would go on and on. But this change in attitude also marked a responsibility. To do things that meant something. That made a difference.
The first invention that anybody knows about was software activation. It's what big companies use to stop people from stealing their software.
I didn't invent it for that. I invented it so that my fellow musicians could try out software and share the good stuff and not have to pay for the software (or be tempted to pirate it) just so that could see whats it was like.
In the original patent I even had a reward system that allowed every ten shares of software to pay for the copy of the giver... but the big software companies just used it to force more licenses on people. If I paid for a Windows OS I should be able to move it with me to my new machine when I upgrade.. right? But unfortunately software activation was used to force one machine one license on everyone. Thus is the plight of inventors. At least it's not as bad as Einstein watching his work on atomic power being used for bombs.
You know, when you first use Windows or Office and you are asked to type in your serial number and it goes across the Internet to check that the serial number hasn't been used before?... yeah that's me. Microsoft was my biggest customer after a little coercion.
Timeline Early Days
1974 Age 12 - Assorted BMX bikes experimented with straight tube frames and mounting motocross handlebars to bicycles and off road knobby tires. My dreams were shattered when Mongoose released there first BMX bike which I tried to import. I stepped back from the idea when it became obvious I was just loading my parents with a business as I couldn't get out of going to school. But I did get a quote for a container load of bikes and a shipping estimate... it was $11,000 at the time and would you believe my parents were supportive! I had great parents.
1975 age 13 - Knee skate yep... a skateboard for kneeboarders... it was pretty dangerous but felt like a go cart... being so low and close to the ground just made for a more intense experience...
1975 age 14 - Ski-skating a parallel stance design/ mono-ski type approach with toe holders and poles with stoppers on the end instead of baskets. For shallow hills only :-(
1979 age 17 - Window cleaning extender poles. An invention of necessity. While volunteering for a cause I support I had to make a living on the side and it was... you guessed it... window cleaning... this 40ft extension pole allowed me to clean windows 3 stories up as long as the water pressure pumped any water that high! It got me a lot of jbs and my brother and I got a lot of home unit type jobs because of it.
1980 age 18 - Shadesavers sunglass cords. These became very popular. Coloured cords that attached to sunglasses that allowed them to hand around your neck... my brother saw leather straps on truck drivers in the US and he and our family developed the coloured cords which my brother and I sold all along the east coast of Australia to pretty much every surf shop and chemist from Sydney to Noosa.
1985 - Hypercard interactive music CD's (B-52's) Hypercard was a cool app back in the 80's. I built a custom card stack that synced itself with an audio CD in the Mac's CD drive. It would show info bubbles at different parts of each song or conversely you could move from bubble to bubble listening to the related part of a track.
1985 - Music printing kiosk my Dad made a beautiful kiosk case/ stand for the kiosk which contained a Mac, a printer and a kiosk interface that printed PDFs of popular sheet music titles... we tried to get it going in Dymocks bookstore in Sydney Australia... came close but did not strike gold.
1986 - Online advertising artwork bulletin board.. After becoming friends with Geoff Eldridge who was the publisher of Australian Dirt Bike magazine I saw how they used to use taxis to pickup artwork from advertisers in the days before the Internet. I had been using a dial up bulletin board system to call the US to interact with headliner musicians and saw immediately how the art files could be shared on bulletin boards... even at 1200 baud speeds. Twenty minutes of modem noise was better than organising a taxi. The idea took of for them but never got to a commercial scale despite talking Ernst and Young into evaluating it... this was the internet before the internet... exciting times.
1986 - Hypercard Fairlight controller/ Automation this one really got me some recognition in the music industry as there was an article about it in "Electronic Musician " magazine that got me invites to work all over the place. This hypercard stack allowed me to automate the process of sending keyboard commands from the Mac's serial port to the Fairlight's computer. It meant I could load samples and song data and settings all from storage on SCSI drives attached to the Mac. So I could charge $40 per hour, set the Mac going and go for a coffee. I ended up working with Michael Jacksons keyboard player because of it.
1992 - Uniloc software activation/ crippleware/ time-bomb software/ try and buy software
the technology that went big time in the end. The whole story can be seen in the Australian Story episodes
about the ups and downs of this, my first and biggest invention.