Cart (Loading....) | Create Account
Close category search window
 

Stray sparks from the induction coil: The volta prize and the page patent

Sign In

Cookies must be enabled to login.After enabling cookies , please use refresh or reload or ctrl+f5 on the browser for the login options.

Formats Non-Member Member
$31 $13
Learn how you can qualify for the best price for this item!
Become an IEEE Member or Subscribe to
IEEE Xplore for exclusive pricing!
close button

puzzle piece

IEEE membership options for an individual and IEEE Xplore subscriptions for an organization offer the most affordable access to essential journal articles, conference papers, standards, eBooks, and eLearning courses.

Learn more about:

IEEE membership

IEEE Xplore subscriptions

1 Author(s)
Post, R.C. ; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

In 1864, following the recommendation of a committee of eminent French scientists, Emperor Napoleon III awarded "Le Prix Volta," 50 000 francs, to a Paris instrument maker, Heimich D. Ruhmkorff, for "l'invention de la bobine d'induction." When news of this reached Washington, Charles G. Page, a patent examiner, claimed to have anticipated Ruhmkorff's first coils by 13 years. Page was subsequently able to secure a special Act of Congress authorizing an extraordinary patent for the coil. While this patent was ostensibly designed simply as a formal tribute and to "vindicate our own nationality in the paths of science," Page's attorney, in league with the Western Union Company, began to press charges of infringement. Even though there is no evidence that Page conspired to exploit his "honorific" patent-indeed, he died shortly after it issued-many of his one-time partisans denounced it as "an outrage on the public." Controversy eventually subsided, and most authorities conceded that Page's priority claim was valid. Nevertheless, Page was virtually forgotten, while historians of science have continued to treat Ruhmkorff as a noteworthy figure on the basis of the recognition accorded him for his work on the coil. Yet, by standard criteria such as publication Ruhmkorff was not a scientist at all, whereas Page was a bona fide experimental physicist, a worthy peer of Joseph Henry. The story of the Volta Prize and the Page Patent, then, reveals something about scientific chauvinism, and about the capricious basis of scientific repute.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:64 ,  Issue: 9 )

Date of Publication:

Sept. 1976

Need Help?


IEEE Advancing Technology for Humanity About IEEE Xplore | Contact | Help | Terms of Use | Nondiscrimination Policy | Site Map | Privacy & Opting Out of Cookies

A not-for-profit organization, IEEE is the world's largest professional association for the advancement of technology.
© Copyright 2014 IEEE - All rights reserved. Use of this web site signifies your agreement to the terms and conditions.