For those unfamiliar with this weblog, it tells the story of the triumphs and failures of Zenith Radio Corporation through the years, and how and why it finally failed, and fell into bankruptcy. This weblog will explain the circumstances that led to its fall, and tell the disturbing story of the role three administrations of the U.S. Government played in Zenith's fall. The destruction was not only of Zenith, but the entire consumer products industry that produced radios and televisions, with the loss of 800,000 American jobs--and your job may have been one of those lost!
Sixteen "Posts" have been published so far. If you are curious about previous posts, you will be shown how to access them in the forthcoming Post 18. Also, you must be told that this weblog is being written by Ralph Clarke (although he has tried to suppress the fact, being naturally modest. He . . . (OK, I!) . . . I worked for Zenith for nearly 40 years, and being a writer, I kept copious notes about what I observed. I am also helped in the writing by you, the readers, for no single person can know it all.
Now that that has been "gotten off the chest," let's tell some history.
(Note: the following story is what the author of this weblog learned second-hand, so some inaccuracies may have occurred.)
Lemelson had set up a foundation to hold his patent portfolio and to prosecute his claims of infringement. Then Gerald Hosier joined Gerald Lemelson and his foundation, and became a lead attorney. Hosier saw immense possibilities in Lemelson’s submarine patents. The machine-reading technique and coding applied to almost every aspect of the manufacturing art. Well, the pair sued the big three auto manufacturers for infringement of the Lemelson patents, and won. Won really big! Then other companies were sued and the Lemelson patents held by the Lemelson Foundation became a licensing gold mine, one yielding about $1.5 billion a year.
The payout was so good that the principals tried to keep the Lemelson patents in force as long as possible. They were on questionable ground, for many of the patents had expired or were about to expire. Keeping the patents alive was accomplished by filing continuation applications and amendments to the original patents.
Cognex Corporation, which specializes in machine vision systems, had been fighting the Lemelson Foundation patents for five years, spending millions in doing so. It filed a suit in a U.S. District Court, which ruled that the Lemelson Foundation's 14 patents relating to machine vision could not be enforced because the foundation "had waited too long to pursue the alleged violators." In a final crushing blow, the also judge ruled that the Lemelson patents were invalid , and that the machine vision and bar code technologies protected by other patents did not infringe upon them. The primary finding was based on a little known precept in patent law known as "laches"--lapse of time bars relief. In short, the Lemelson Foundation had waited too long. Hosier appealed to "SCOTUS"--the Supreme court of the United States, which declined to review the case. (Note well: When the Supreme Court has denied a case, that is usually the "last chance" in law. This fact applies to a later situation that,later on, affected Zenith profoundly, so please keep in mind.)
The licensing gold mine had run out of gold.
Hosier used his fortune as noted. Lemelson, however, had set up the charitable foundation described previously, and made worthy use of his fortune. The mission of the foundation is as described in the Lemelson Foundation website . (Just click on the underscored words to view the website. A url (address) will appear. click on it.)
(Note: Some of the foregoing content has been derived from an article by Bill Roberts published March 2004 in Electronic Business magazine. The title of the article is Judge scuttles patent attacks.)
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Now! Meet the Commander's granddaughter-- Bridget Brigitte McDonald!
(For additional information about Bridget and her life and work, , open her website: http://www.wic.org/bio/bbrigitte.htmBridget
Note by the Author of this blog: Bridget often appears on Facebook as an advocate, for example, for the preservation of the African elephant and all African wildlife. Elephants need it: it is said that 22,000 are killed yearly for their ivory tusks and as "jungle meat."
Commander McDonald would be proud of her! Let's evoke intimations of immortality and write "He is proud of her!"
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Wayne Bretl has retrieved the photos taken during the 10th and final breakfast reunion! Just click on the URL below (or copy and paste it into your internet address bar) and if you were at the reunion, you may find a photo of yourself, in all your glory!
Thanks, Wayne! And farewell to those beautiful breakfast meetings. They will remain long in memory
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The Rauland picture tube plant was a wonder. At present, there is a lack of photos of the plant, which, hopefully will be remedied by you, the readers. Also, there is a lack of written descriptions of the plant. To make up for the lack, let's reprint the Post 12 description of the ill-fated Lansdale plant--for they were very much alike.
(Writer's note: for some strange rason, there is a big gap here which I can't close. When I try, and push "backspace,: the whole story disappears--completely gone--which, as you can imagine, leads to instant panic. --RC)
Description of the Lansdale Television Picture Tube Plant
A facility for manufacturing picture tubes is a sheer marvel that encompasses all the arts of manufacturing. The photos that follow give some idea of the scope and extent of the Lansdale (and the Rauland) picture tube plant.
The photo shows a line of pumps used for circulating the fluids required for the manufacture of television tubes. And there are many fluids: water, of course (deionized, too), acids, alkalis, hydrogen trioxide, etc. And there are separate tanks for all of them, connected and interconnected by myriad pipes, conduits, conductors, valves, and unions--a wilderness of plumbing activated by myriad electrical controls and circuits.
Add to all the tools and equipment, hundreds of technicians and engineers, all highly skilled and specialists in what they do to maintain and operate and the factory.
--and of course, there are long assembly lines with the many attendants required as the tube travels a path from raw glass tube to its final testing stage, ready for sending to an assembly plant where it is fitted into a cabinet and becomes a salable product.
Looks pretty expensive, doesn't it? It was. The cost was $65 million which, in today's money, is close to a third of a billion dollar$.
Now let's talk about the Rauland Picture Tube Plant: The total evaluation was much more than $65 million--more like $100 million because Zenith had expanded Rauland to make all of its picture tubes. Employees totaled more than 2,000, and many of those had irreplaceable experience in designing and manufacturing picture tubes. The demand was there, as Zenith was ramping up production to meet the production rate of television sets from Mexico.
. . . production rate from Mexico?
Yes, for all Zenith production of television sets was relocated in Mexico.* Why Mexico? Because Zenith had been forced to move all of its production of television sets out of the U.S. Why, again? Because of the grossly unfair competition from a criminal RCA-Japanese cartel. Which leads to this sad headline--
But Rauland was the last to go. When Zenith was forced to move "offshore" to Mexico, all American production employees were laid off, and the plants were sold. Rauland was retained because it would have been impossible to transfer such a huge plant to Mexico.
Again, why did all this happen? Because Zenith had lost the Second War, the war with that criminal cartel. The story of the Zenith's Second War will be told in a future Post of this weblog.
[*Footnote: . . .forced to move offshore to Mexico and Taiwan! But primarily to Mexico.]
(Sorry, Raulanders! . . . this is the first exposure to this weblog for many of you, and unhappily, you are greeted by a sad story like this!)
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ERRATA (1) In Post 10, Zenith's top-of -the -line Stratosphere 1000 was listed erroneously as coming on the market in 1925. It actually appeared in 1938, and at the then-phenomenal cost of $750. (That $750 in today's money is $12,138!) Yet people bought them because it was a Zenith product, and Zenith was the best. If you had held onto that set, you could sell it today for $30,000 to $50,000, so it wouldn't have been a bad purchase. (Let's line up and kick ourselves for not buying one and storing it away in Grandma's attic! And, thanks t0 Bill Cohn for spotting the error in the date.)
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And here is a request for a donation for a worthy cause, from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia--
This year, please consider making a donation of $5, $20, $50 or whatever you can to protect and sustain Wikipedia.
To donate, go to any Wikipedia site. For example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Oceanic In the column on the left side, you will seen an entry DONATE. Just click on it and the instructions for donating will appear. Even $5 or $10 will help. (No, I don't get a "cut.")
Just in! Hold the Presses!
-- Russ Miller
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In the next post, Post 18, of this Zenith weblog, we'll complete Al Ditthardt's story of the Zenith pager; also, and for the benefit of newcomers, we'll offer a recap of what's been published in past Posts of this Zenith weblog , along with instructions how to easily access any post you may wish to read.
An apology: I have an awful time with hyperlinks--those Url's and other indicators which are supposed to take you to other websites. Google seems to be fighting me when I use its system for inserting hyperlinks. So please do the best you can in accessing the other sites; they're worth visiting. You may have to copy and paste the address into your internet address bar.
SO!--Mizpah! until next time.
An explanation of the word "Mizpah" for those who have recently joined: It is a Hebrew term which means (very roughly) ". . . may all be well with you and I until we meet again "Mizpah" was also the name of McDonald's yacht.