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Portable Stereo Creator Gets His Due

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-thought-sony-created-the-world dept.

Patents 149

eadint wrote to mention an International Tribune article covering Sony's settlement with the inventor of the portable stereo. From the article: "Pavel invented the device known today as the Walkman. But it took more than 25 years of battling the Sony Corporation and others in courts and patent offices around the world before he finally won the right to say it: Andreas Pavel invented the portable personal stereo player."

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Slight correction (1, Informative)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284435)

Pavel invented the personal portable stereo player. Sony invented the Walkman.

You wouldn't say Nintendo invented the Playstation, would you?

Re:Slight correction (4, Informative)

creepynut (933825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284453)

In a way, Nintendo helped. Sony and Nintendo were working a joint effort to make a CD-based version of the Super NES. Nintendo screwed them over, and Sony went off and made the Playstation.

Re:Slight correction (3, Informative)

frinsore (153020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284474)

Considering that the Walkman is a name brand personal stereo player and considered by the general public to be the first personal stereo player, I'd say that it is an apt summary of the situation.

And considering that Sony was manufacturing and doing R&D for Nintendo's consoles prior to the N64 and that the play station development was initiated by Nintendo, I wouldn't say that Nintendo invented the Play Station but Nintendo definetly had a hand in it's conception.
wiki [wikipedia.org]

Re:Slight correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284475)

Don't you think the Walkman is a "personal portable stereo player"?

Re:Slight correction (5, Insightful)

malkavian (9512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284478)

What an odd thing to say. The Walkman is a personal portable stereo player. Sony invented nothing there, they merely created a personal stereo, and branded it as a "Walkman".
The playstation wasn't invented under the same argument, as it was a subset of a 'game console'.. Not sure who came up with that idea (atari was the first I remember).

Re:Slight correction (1)

Ashe Tyrael (697937) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284645)

Walkman is to personal stereo as Hoover is to vacuum cleaner. They didn't invent it, but they popularised it to such an extent that their brand name became a generic byword for the item itself. Sellotape in the UK is another one. Usually it's the forst of a thing, or it's the market leader. How many people absently refer to certain own-brand cola drinks as coke? It all happens, but it's nice to see someone get their due from The Man.

Re:Slight correction (2, Informative)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284790)

I believe the first game console was the Magnavox Odyssey, it came out before the first pong machine.

Re:Slight correction (1)

tenchi90 (668754) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285080)

Ralph Baer was the first to patent nearly all of the video game ascpects. http://www.ralphbaer.com/patents.htm [ralphbaer.com]

Re:Slight correction (1)

back_pages (600753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285727)

What an odd thing to say. The Walkman is a personal portable stereo player. Sony invented nothing there, they merely created a personal stereo, and branded it as a "Walkman". The playstation wasn't invented under the same argument, as it was a subset of a 'game console'.. Not sure who came up with that idea (atari was the first I remember).

Something that you can define in a single sentence (a claim) that cannot reasonably be found in the prior art (as defined primarily by 35 USC 102 paragraphs a, b, and e) may very well constitute an "invention". A little known fact is that a rejection based on "obviousness" requires every piece of the invention to be present in the prior art. Source: MPEP 2143.03 [uspto.gov] .

While "the Playstation" may not have defined something you cannot find in the prior art, I believe that "a video game console that uses CDs and nothing but CDs for game program storage and has a primary input device including a D-pad and 10 buttons" would define "the Playstation" in a way that doesn't exist as a whole in the prior art. Finding the pieces and declaring it "obvious" would be a plausible, but much weaker argument. The first rebuttal would be, "If it's so obvious, why can't you find the entire thing in the prior art? Clearly the idea of combining those pieces constitutes an 'invention'."

Re:Slight correction (2, Insightful)

WEFUNK (471506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285563)

Regardless of what Sony may have agreed to in their latest settlement, I agree that it's highly erroneous to claim that Pavel invented the "Walkman" and that at best he might have a claim as "a" father of personal music devices, and not "the father" as is claimed in several sources. Although Sony has grown into a huge faceless multi-national (and was already big at the time), it certainly wasn't faceless at the time and any additional due given to Pavel should not be at the expense of some of the most ingenious innovators of our time.

From the article and other sources, Pavel apparently invented what he called the "Stereobelt" in 1972, which may have been the first personal portable stereo player concept to anticipate a number of the features that latter helped to make the Walkman so successful. Other "portable" players may have been commercially available around the same time, but were usually mono, and not strictly "personal" as they were heavier due to elements such as microphones and external speakers (although I haven't found anything to indicate the actual design of the Stereobelt or whether it was even more than a prototype).

He spent years shopping it around his idea to no avail, before finally patenting it in 1977. I'm not sure about the patent laws of the time, so I don't know how he was able to get away with inventing and offering to sell something for 5 years before receiving his first patent (and then proceeding to file other international patents). My guess: from the brief abstract listed elsewhere in the comments, and from the subsequent actions of Sony (modest settlements), I wouldn't be surprised if his actual patent was quite narrow (looks like there is something about retractable cords) and may have been on shakey ground due to his own (and possibly other) prior art and delay in filing.

At the time, Sony was already selling "portable cassette players" but these were heavy and monoaural. One of the co-founders of Sony, Masaru Ibuka, was a frequent user of one of these products (the "Pressman") and asked Kozo Ohsone to come up with a more portable stereo version. Co-founder and then Sony Chairman Akio Morita correctly saw the potential of the new product to create a new category of "personal" music devices and coined the name "Walkman". Because of his vision and success with the Walkman line, Akio Morita has been (in my opinion) quite rightly credited as the father of the personal stereo, even though the actual Walkman concept was invented by Ibuka and Ohsone.

As the article points out, Sony did in fact settle with Pavel over a German patent in the early eighties, but Pavel was frustrated over his claim of inventorship and continued to sue Sony through the 90's dispite continually losing in court. Only after Ibuka and Akio's deaths did Sony Corporation provide a second settlement that apparently provides him with some additional credit tied to the "Walkman" and what is a relatively token amount (probably didn't help much beyond his court costs) to stop him from his public criticism and litigation.

I think it's sad that the significant contributions of Ibuka and especially Morita might be so easily discounted since their death. And while I'm supportive of inventors such as Pavel getting their due, from the face of it I don't think he was particularly hard done by all these millions of dollars later for an idea he had thirty years ago -- this story is a far cry from an entrepreneur that worked hard to implement their idea, start and grow a business, and then had it stolen out from under them. He probably had a valid, if narrow, infringement case when he first settled twenty years ago. But that he could even *consider* suing today's MP3 manufacturers (long after any loosely connected patents have expired) just show how clearly ridiculous his notions are of his intellectual property rights.

Sad story (5, Insightful)

c_fel (927677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284445)

In fact it's a sad story, it shows how it could be difficult to actually earn money from our inventions. It's not really motivating for me and many of us since we all are kind of inventors... Personally I don't think I'd have threw away millions of dollars in court like he did. Kudos to him !

Re:Sad story (4, Insightful)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284471)

Imagine the number of every day products which have "true" inventors without a cent to their name.

The warm and fuzzy feeling of having created an idea that benefited millions probably doesn't have the same effect knowing that you were robbed of personal finacial benefits.

__
I watch funny adult videos [laughdaily.com] .

Re:Sad story (2, Insightful)

rbochan (827946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284734)

Imagine the number of every day products which have "true" inventors without a cent to their name...

Sorta sounds like the music [negativland.com] industry [usatoday.com] ...

Oh wait, this is SONY.

Re:Sad story (1)

Kynde (324134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285048)

Imagine the number of every day products which have "true" inventors without a cent to their name.

And without rightful recognition for that matters. Moreover, it goes beyond every day products, e.g. radio and motorized flight.

Re:Sad story (2, Insightful)

earthstar (748263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284473)


  Personally I don't think I'd have threw away millions of dollars in court like he did


But how many have that 'millions of dollars' ?

Re:Sad story (5, Insightful)

Grym (725290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284499)

Exactly, this story completely undermines the entire argument that the patent system somehow benefits small inventors--it doesn't.

SURE, this guy won in the end... AFTER 25 YEARS. How many countless other inventors have simply given up? Would this guy have been able to also patent new ideas or defend other contested patents during this time period?

What's the point in intellectual property if you're realistically only allowed to keep what companies don't want?

-Grym

Re:Sad story (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284563)

Exactly, this story completely undermines the entire argument that the patent system somehow benefits small inventors--it doesn't.

Also that patents are any form of protection against a large corporation taking your idea.

SURE, this guy won in the end... AFTER 25 YEARS. How many countless other inventors have simply given up?

Or not had the resources to carry on, dispite having a patent he lost a 7 year legal lawsuit.

Re:Sad story (0)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284786)

Exactly, this story completely undermines the entire argument that the patent system somehow benefits small inventors--it doesn't.

I call bullshit.

Sure, the patent system does not protect every small inventor - however there are many cases of small inventors and companies benefitting from patent law against large companies. If there was no patent law how many of these stories would there be? Nada zip zero NONE.

Thus patents DO protect small inventors albeit imperfectly.

Re:Sad story (2, Insightful)

PostItNote (630567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285024)

Be careful here. In order to say "patents help the little guy", you have to look at how effective they've been at letting small inventors take on big corporations, as you mention, but you ALSO have to look at how effective they are at allowing big corporations to squash the little guy flat.

I know that I wouldn't want to be a software developer in any domain MS or IBM or SCO have ever done anything...

Re:Sad story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14285040)

So your argument about the imperfection of the patent system is that people who invent something, be it a small entity or a large entity, are treated as equals under the law? I'm flabberghasted! I shall write my Congressman this minute and ensure this is remedied! Equal protection under the law?! What is this insanity?

Re:Sad story (1)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285830)

SURE, this guy won in the end... AFTER 25 YEARS. How many countless other inventors have simply given up?
but you ALSO have to look at how effective they are at allowing big corporations to squash the little guy flat.
So your argument about the imperfection of the patent system is that people who invent something, be it a small entity or a large entity, are treated as equals under the law?
I think we interpretted this comment sequence differently.
It's only equal if the two entities are of similar size... in other words, the little guy has to fight for 25yrs and spend more money on legal fees than the average individual earns in their lifetime: the corporations on the other hand have the millions to spend, and for them millions are a rounding error on the balance sheet.
I agree with the majority of this thread: Patents do little to encourage the small guy, and basically ensure that large corporations can run riot with little worry. Let's face it: No matter what Sony has to pay now, they have already re-profited from the earnings many times over. To many people the "walkman" is synonymous with "sony", and I would suggest that the walkman is what made sony the electronics giant that it is, in much the same way as the minivan made Chrysler profitable again...

Said if before, but I'll just repeat myself for fun: Patents are Bad.

Re:Sad story (2, Interesting)

tomjen (839882) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285217)

Well the inventer of FM radio fourth with the RCA (his employer) over his patent rights and afther they used every dirty trick in the book, they declared his patents invalied. They he fourth with them in court for six year before he was broke. They offered him a settlement that did not even pay for the court fees.
Then absolutely defeated he jumped out of a window.

I think this inventer was more lucky, he got the money at least.

Fair? (2, Insightful)

Wilkshake (788751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284449)

So the guy gets a cash settlement in the 10s of millions. How much has Sony made from the portable music market?

The manager's response: (1)

SilverspurG (844751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284500)

That's more than most people get. Be happy he got anything. Get back to work. If he continues to say anything about it we'll figure out a way to get him on insubordination.

Out with the old, in with the new (4, Funny)

Kawahee (901497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284451)

I, Todd Aspeotis invented the iPod! iShall send forth my iLawyers to iSue you for my iPatent. iWish iHad some iFriends so they could see my name iN the iMedia, but iDon't.

Re:Out with the old, in with the new (1)

ilikejam (762039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284525)

See username.

In case of slashdotting... (0)

kamukwam (652361) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284460)

In case of slashdotting the site, here are the first two paragraphs...

At the sixties latter term, as for Andreas Pavel and that friend from Bach which in order to inquire about record at that house gets together systematically here to Janis Joplin, and politics of story and philosophy. With leap of fantasy, as for them it kept depending with anywhere, why as for taking those their music whether it is not possible expectation, you thought in doubt.

It is urged by those arguments, Pavel invented the device which today is known as Walkman. But as for that before winning the right he finally to say that in the world Corporation and other things it fights, you took Sony of the courthouse and patent bureau of 25 game years or more: Andreas Pavel invented the portable private stereo player.

Other slashdotted documents... (-1, Offtopic)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284495)

In case any links to these important documents get slashdotted let me help:

Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,


Constitution of the United States:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,

Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent,

I hope everyone found these helpful.

Re:In case of slashdotting... (3, Funny)

bheading (467684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284597)

But as for that before winning the right he finally to say

My lexical analyser dumped core trying to get through that.

Royalties (1)

kafka47 (801886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284464)

Pavel declined to say how much Sony was obliged to pay....But European press accounts said that Pavel....is now also receiving royalties on some Walkman sales.

You mean, for both of them?

Sounds like a too "obvious" patent (2, Insightful)

gorim (700913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284466)

Seriously, a patent for a "portable" stereo ?
I sure am hell glad there was no patent on portable game consoles. Maybe there is, waiting to sue Sony and Nintendo.

Its too bad this guy one the fight. This patent just as much shows whats wrong with the patent system as the controversies of today.

Re:Sounds like a too "obvious" patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284528)

if that were the case shouldn't Sega (Game Gear) nail Sony (PSP) for likeness to it's portable? :D

Re:Sounds like a too "obvious" patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284602)

Its too bad this guy one the fight. This patent just as much shows whats wrong with the patent system as the controversies of today.
Yeah, because, you know, he could have two'd the fight... or sixty-nined or eighty-sixed it.

Re:Sounds like a too "obvious" patent (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284785)

If it was that obvious, it should be easy for you to find an example of prior art.

Before the Walkman, the only people that I ever saw wearing headphones in public were the sound guys on film crews with their Nagra recorders.

Re:Sounds like a too "obvious" patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14285293)

I did not RTFA..
IMHO, taking something that already exists and making it smaller and/or portable is not an idea that is unique or special. I view the concept as an improvement or change, not an invention.
There is also the fact that this product involves technology. Technology changes rapidly and things that were not possible or practical a few years earlier can become mainstream a few years later. The digital camera is a perfect example. I'm sure someone somewhere could have made one decades ago but would have it been mass produced and sold at the retail level as a replacement for a regular camera? Hell no. Would the creation of that first digital cmaera changed the world? Hell no. That thought and concept of a digital camera is useless unless you have or can make the the technology to actually create one. That is where the real innovation comes from. Here's an idea I just came up with, a device that monitors all debris entering the earths atmosphere. If that debris makes it though to a specific point in our atmosphere and is traveling on a path that would have it strike land, hit it with a concentrated beam of energy at a specific frequency that will cause the debris to resonate and explode into smaller pieces. If a working model is ever built, where do you think the innovation award and credit should go. Me that came up with the idea or the technology and engineering behind the working product?

Again, I did not RTFA so this concept may not apply in this case.

Uh, that's not hard... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285393)

A transistor radio, which was the logical result of technology which allowed radios to get smaller. Interestingly, Sony was also at the forefront in using technology to make radios smaller. Their first profitible product was a portable tape recorder. Clearly, using technology to make media devices smaller was a common theme at Sony.

The Walkman-type cassette player was an obvious (and therefore supposedly unpatentable) step in the evolution of tape recorders and players. Sony simply applied the same formula which had worked for them with radios and earlier tape recorders and which they would later apply to videotape (uMatic->beta->8mm...). There's no inventive thought involved in the overall concept, athough there might be patentable things involved as a result of miniaturization work.

An ironic finish to the article... (1)

Akodo Jed (646983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284484)

"So, no, I'm not interested anymore in patents or legal fights or anything like that. I don't want to be reduced to the label of being the inventor of the Walkman." Sadly, most of the world will only remember him for being the inventor of the Walkman, if they even know his name. :( --Jed

Not sure I understand (4, Insightful)

David Off (101038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284511)

I'm not sure I understand the invention here (unless we are defining "invention" in the terms used by the USPO). When I was at school back in the early 1970s there were girls who would walk around with headphones and casette recorders to listen to music using the Philips Compact Audio casette system. [wikipedia.org] which was introduced in 1963. I don't know if you remember these casette players, they would work on batteries and had a strap so they could be carries over the shoulder like a handbag. The walkman just seems like the usual Japanese refinement and minituarization of the system... I don't see an inventive process here except for certain component technologies such as the compact audio cassette. There were also portable music systems based on the 45RPM record available from the early 1970s.

Just because this was novel in Hicktown Italy in 1977 doesn't mean it was novel in some of the slightly more go ahead parts of the world. He has basically beaten Sony into submission by harrassment despite losing all of his court cases. Ok maybe we shouldn't shed a tear for Sony who would do much the same themselves.

He's just a lousy patent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284529)

He's nothing but a patent troll. Just because he's not a very good one and it took 25 years to extract his randsom doesn't make his 'invention' novel.

Patent office needs to show it's helping the little guy, so they caved and awarded his patent.

We had portable radios, the tapes were getting smaller with each iteration, he just patented the obvious.

Re:Not sure I understand (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285036)

When I was at school back in the early 1970s there were girls who would walk around with headphones and casette recorders to listen to music using the Philips Compact Audio casette system.

Yup, and I bet those things looked like this [rareads.com] - IOW just like a Walkman - or a "stereobelt". Why the hell did nobody else simply remove the heavy bits not needed for mobile use with headphones like the loudspeaker and power supply if it was so fucking obvious?

But all inventions have always been obvious - once somebody finally came up with them.

Re:Not sure I understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14285372)

People did come up with tiny recorders before the walkman, but Sony were the only people who could mass produce them cheaply with the consumer compact cassette format.

Nagra brought out the tiny portable open reel Nagra SNN in 1970, which is still smaller than most recent cassette walkmans! (146 x 102 x 25.5mm)
http://www.bassboy.com.au/getreel/site/samples/cc/ snn/snn.htm [bassboy.com.au]
It was expensive and required the tape to be threaded by hand, but the quality, both mechanical and aural is far ahead of any cassette walkman.

I would have thought that this machine was prior art, and as with all Nagra tape recorders, a work of art in it's own right.

Re:Not sure I understand (2, Interesting)

tatonca (305375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285500)

FTFA - "took his invention to one audio company after another - Grundig, *Phillips*, Yamaha and ITT among them..."

You'd have to analyze the text a little more to get the timeline, but doesn't it seem odd to you, that a guy presenting a portable music player swings by the Philips office - they laugh at him and tell him it's crazy - and then said company comes out with similar in the same time frame? Ever wonder why hollywood seems to be constantly putting out similarly themed movies at the same time all the time?

Same reason - a guy is wandering around pitching a script idea - the studio laughs at him and tells him he's crazy - they hire their own writers to capitilize on the idea without having to pay out royalties...

Of course, this is all mere speculation - but then how come Philips didn't sue Sony? Maybe cause they'd stolen the idea themselves?

Re:Not sure I understand (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285779)

IIRC, his 'invention' was making it truly portable by not bothering with the recording circuits, which were much bulkier than the playback circuits (don't ask me why).

That was clearly technical and non-obvious (after ten years of lugging around kit the size of a small briefcase), but I'm not sure that 'miss out X' can be counted as 'inventing'.

J.

FROST PIST?N! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284513)

pra%ctical purpo0ses,

What did he invent? (4, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284514)

Did the Walkman actually use any of his technical solutions? Or did he just "invent" the idea of portable music? The difficult part of protable music is not to think it would be nice, but to overcome the difficulties like making it small, light and robust enough.

In a Nutshell: (1, Redundant)

kellererik (307956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284534)

If you are not protected by MEGACORP(TM) with lots of money to burn in legal battles, forget standing up to your rights. It really does not matter if you got there (and tried to patent) first, all your ideas belong to the ones with the deepest pockets.
Isn't this a wonderful word?

my 2 cents (if this should be trademarked by now, consider this sentence non-existant)

Re:In a Nutshell: (2, Funny)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284555)

Actually, that's the complete OPPOSITE of what the story says. Rather, it says that the inventor stood up for his rights and won, eventually, and now will receive more money than you will ever see in your lifetime despite actually producing ZERO units himself and doing a step that some might characterize as marginally novel.

But dont worry! Keep belieiving your junior-high school grade korporation konspiracy. I'm sure there will be plenty of other stories on slashdot where you'll get modded insightful for it!

Re:In a Nutshell: (1)

kellererik (307956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284616)

Right on. This lone example that the system sometimes works (by accident) proofs that the system in itself is not totally flawed. Score!!!!!!!!!!
Besides, coming up with an idea like this and getting a patent for it? The system must have worked. Who would come up with an idea like, say, a transistor radio, maybe portable? And since the program usually sucks, lets add some way to listen to what the owner wants, let's say cassettes? Every person carrying a portable radio since the '50s might have thought about that, but still, there is the patent for the obvious.
My point in the parent post was, that one has to have very deep pockets to mount a defense against the ones with deeper pockets. If you think every small company or inventor has the funds to survive a legal battle dragging on for that period of time: Welcome to the real world, Neo!

That's how it is.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284535)

The fate of engineers in a world where buzzwords earn the money and working people have to go to court for 25 years to get their share.

The hypocrisy of Slashdot (4, Interesting)

msormune (808119) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284549)

So why is this not an obvious invention? Because it is a single guy against a big company, suddenly it's ok to patent something pretty obvious and try to start cashing in on it? This of course means that the manufacturers will increase the prices in order to cover the extra licensing costs. If someone working for Microsoft had patented this 25 years ago and now won the patent, most people on Slashdot would be huffing and puffing with their faces red. But when it's a single guy against the "new evil empire" Sony, let's all cheer for him. Never mind that it's the consumer that gets screwed in the end.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284574)

You're right about the duplicity of "typical slashdot logic" (yes, expect the usual reply about how "slashdot is not one person, but many and there are many opinions here", though we all known damn well what the underlying mentality that is "slashbot" thinks and you hit the nail on the head)

However, you are completely off the mark about the consumer getting screwed.

What the consumer gets is new and better inventions - walkmen in this case. Point to ANY technological field - be it automobiles, machine parts, washers/dryers, consumer electronics - whatever! and try telling me honestly that the consumer hasn't been the ultimate winner thanks to a patent system that has, for all its faults, encouraged innovation well. It would take an incredible amount of self-deception to convince oneself that we'd have EVEN better cars and EVEN better everything else were it not for the patent system giving companies and individuals incentive over the years to invest as heavily in R&D as they did.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284627)

What the consumer gets is new and better inventions - walkmen in this case. Point to ANY technological field - be it automobiles, machine parts, washers/dryers, consumer electronics - whatever! and try telling me honestly that the consumer hasn't been the ultimate winner thanks to a patent system that has, for all its faults, encouraged innovation well. It would take an incredible amount of self-deception to convince oneself that we'd have EVEN better cars and EVEN better everything else were it not for the patent system giving companies and individuals incentive over the years to invest as heavily in R&D as they did.

That is a statement of opinion. There is no proof whatsoever that the patent system helped that in general (or hindered it for that matter). What is there is annecdotal evidence of cases where it worked and cases where it failed.

In order to show that the patent system works, one has to show that the fact that an invention is patented furthers the development and encourages new inventions besides having encouraged the patented invention itself.

If you want to argue that it works, please provide some undisputable proof of that. Alternatively, realize that your statement is an opinion, and actually has a serious likelyhood of not being true.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (2, Interesting)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284764)

Sigh.

Here's a simple example: compare the number of new pharmaceuticals developed in countries with strong IP regulations compared to those that don't.

Now, expand your 'test' into virtually any avenue of economic endeavour that you can think of: aviation, automotive, medical devices, consumer electronics, manufacturing process, chemical production, etc etc and you will see that in essentially every case, the systems with stronger IPR have historically done better in providing a better quality and quantity of items for their citizens. EVERY TIME.

Just because you have no actual knowledge of the subject and therefore subject me to the silliest of challenges does not make you right.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (3, Insightful)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285138)

I will have to qualify your statement, and say that strong should refer only to the strictness of enforcement, not the lengthening of period. This is a mistake that the US legislature has made time and again.

When a company can get licensing fees from a patent or copyright past the end of my lifetime, or when the creator's grandchildren can collect royalties throughout their lifetimes, we have done the opposite of what IP law should do. We have *exempted* the entity in question from ever needing to contribute to society again, when the point should be to *tempt* them with the benefits of further innovation after their temporary monopoly has expired.

Jasin Natael

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285444)

Here's a simple example: compare the number of new pharmaceuticals developed in countries with strong IP regulations compared to those that don't.

Its absolutely not clear what is cause and what is effect there, just as with your other example:

Now, expand your 'test' into virtually any avenue of economic endeavour that you can think of: aviation, automotive, medical devices, consumer electronics, manufacturing process, chemical production, etc etc and you will see that in essentially every case, the systems with stronger IPR have historically done better in providing a better quality and quantity of items for their citizens. EVERY TIME.

The fact that things coincide does not mean they are linked, not to mention that your 'every time' is highly dubious.

I'd rather say that when a country becomes more wealthy, it starts putting more efford into protecting the things that makes it wealthy. Interlectual property protection is just an example of that.

This view is substantiated when looking at almost any country that made it from 'developing nation' into 'economic tiger'. Almost all tend to get aroundd the concept of IP during their rapid development, and start caring about it when things stabilize and they start having a need to protect what they have.

This did not happen in the USA you say?

The provision in the constitution is a response to the much more draconian patents as were in use in Europe at the time of its conception, and ignoring those, and only providing a minimum of protection has helped the USA a lot to change itself from colony into self sustaining nation into the superpower that we have today.

Bottomline, your statement that history supports that strong IP laws favor wealth and growth is imho not sustainable, rather, strong IP laws are a consequence of the need to protect gathered wealth and deminishing growth.

This is sad because the ideas as written down in the US constitution have some good arguments going for them but their current implementations are bad because instead of promoting usefull inventions and art, it creates a minefield for inventors and artists alike (try writing a song without accidetely using some lines from someone else)

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (4, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284783)

There have been *many* cases of patents retarding innovation.

My favourite is the steam engine - development was stalled for 20 years because of an outstanding patent on high pressure steam valves.

And that was when patents didn't have stupid lifetimes.... If it were like today I suspect we'd still be waiting for someone to invent it.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (2, Interesting)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285527)

There is a long list of such examples, the oldest that I know about dates back to the 1600s and regards some required technology for a wind driven sawing machine (sawmill), its most likely not the oldest documented case however.

Another example is the patent battle surrounding the invention of the traditional TV system and camera technology. While there were definitely genuine patents involved here, it goes to show that a small inventor has little power over big companies even when winning a patent dispute after a few decades and how this can completely stall the development of some invention and anything directly related to it.

Breast cancer diagnosis. AIDS drugs. (4, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284972)

And in general the medical world. Why the hell you think the third world is calling bloody murder on AIDS or drug patent ? Because most of those drug, *not EVEN found or developped by private laboratory* are sold at prohibitive price despite that the production of chemical itself isn't as expensive. This is why soime country (India /Brazil) many time over blatantly broke and violated patents. As for Breast cancer i can remmember sometimes ago a scientist whining because some labor patented a diagnostic process and made it too expensive or illegal to make some research on rbeast cancer (if I recall corrrectly). So granted those example are NOT consumer electronic, but they concern a far more bigger part of the world and a far more important thing : Health.

And do not get me started on US/EU company patenting a remedy used locally (india, Africa) since a long time, and then forbid local people to continue using it because of the patent. 10 years some of those patent held on fought by the country of the originating stuff (I think that was the case of Neme...Somebody call me wrong here). I won't even start speaking of mosento patenting grain and forbidding farmer reusing seed.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284739)

Thankfully I have noticed a few comments other than yours pointing the logical fallacy of this patent out.

I suppose it's the same as those companies who wants to demand royalties from Apple due to patents they claim the iPod infringes. So in that respect I suppose we should all get rooting for Microsoft [theregister.co.uk] and Creative. [bbc.co.uk]

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284748)

So why is this not an obvious invention?

Unfortunately it is impossible to tell what makes this a novel idea without things like patent numbers and a more detailed look that the history of the portable casstte player. Making comments like 'why isn't this obvious' without actually doing the work to see what the deficiencies of the state of the art in the late '70s were is not being fair to the inventor.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

Sky Cry (872584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284874)

It might be obvious *now*, but that doesn't mean it was obvious 25 years ago.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

elpapacito (119485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285182)

Look at who's pointing at hypocrisy ! Indeed there are some if not many harsh critics of Microsoft in here, some of them up to irrational criticisms a.k.a. Microsoft Bashers , but you my dear belong to their own category of those who hastly criticize those who criticize. Pot, meet kettle.

Some people on Slashdot don't give a flying about what a microsoft employee would have done ; others would have irrationally rejoiced as if working for Microsoft on some pretty tame project necessarily implied having the same agenda as Microsoft, part of which is monopolistic and despicable. Others would have talked in support of a single microsoft employee being screwed by Microsoft itself.

So if you want to categorize most of people on Slashdot, try to make some diversifing distinction or enter a subset of the same group you're criticizing.

AS for the fact that the guy probably shouldn't have been awarded a patent, I completely agree on the statement that a patent (granting a legal monopoly) for a generic wearable device capable of playing music would be absurd and would have a chilling effect on production and innovation ; as a remedy there could be different , less restrictive patents protecting one particular implementation of a concept , which would reward the inventor for sharing his ideas with others.

But there's another big problem that overshadows many others : even if we somehow made the patent system and similar "idea monopolies" system effectively award to the one who has the MERIT....that still wouldn't help the person WIN in court if not after lengthy expensive legal battles with rich people.

If you can't defend the patent with enough money...you don't own one. So what's the whole point of the patenting system if it's not enough to protect from exploitation at the expense of the author(s) ? In other words if the rule of law often favours the one with the most money or let them escape with a little slap on the wrist...what's the point of inventing and innovating ? What's the point of respecting the patents ?

Oh wait, but if you're a comparatively little guy and you screw up a patent willy nilly..good luck.

Re:The hypocrisy of Slashdot (1)

Jamesie (615784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285196)

They are all obvious inventions with 20-20 hindsight.
In the 70's the idea of removing the speaker and mic from the hardback book size mono tape recorders of the time was not at all obvious. The idea of carrying around a stereo player with just headphones that couldn't record was a novel one.

This is just plain wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284561)

It should just not be possible to patent the obvious use of available technology. Pavel did not "invent" anything. The concept of a portable stereo player has ocurred to almost anyone that has an interest in listening to music, and would have been created as soon as appropriate technology was available.

There is no difference to this than "inventing" a radio that can be put in a car, or lights that can be put in a Christmas tree.

I'm no fan of Sony since the "root kit" incedent, but I'm apalled that Sony should have to pay this guy anything. In my opinion he should be be made to pay for wasting everybody's time with a frivilous lawsuit.

We, especially us tech-savvy types, should not entertain, and actually oppose the idea of being able to patent things like concepts, abstract ideas, software, algorithms, DNA, business practices etc.

Remember, a patent is a granting of a temporary monopoly to someone to compensate and reward him for the effort of actually creating something new that is a benefit to all of us. I'm pretty sure almost any Slashdotter would have though of building a "portable stereo player" at about the same time he did, since that is when there was the convergence of technologies that made it possible and feasable. Why reward Pavel and tax everyone else then?

It was already available (4, Informative)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284651)

He filed a patent in 1977 for fucks sake. Tape recorders already came in stereo, they already had headphones, they already were getting smaller, my dad had a phillips one with a battery pack and a carrying strap.

So what was his invention? What??

Similar in style to the tape recorder on this page:
http://www.superscopetechnologies.com/company/hist ory/superscopehistory.shtml [superscope...logies.com]

"In 1975, Superscope's product line included: eight portable tape recorders, six portable-cassette radio products, seven Hi Fi receivers, two tuners, three amplifiers, five stereo tape decks, six speaker models, five compact music systems, eight microphones "

Re:It was already available (1)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284820)

I can't claim to know about every portable tape player ever invented, but of all the ones that have so far been presented as possible prior art, I see two very important characteristics that distinguish the Walkman-style players.

These are:

1. Speakerless. This yielded a smaller, lighter, less fragile, and lower power package.
2. Good quality stereo playback.

While one might make a case for obviousness, I don't think that any of the earlier players that I'm aware of would reasonably qualify as prior art, at least not in regards to the above two features. The old style portable cassette units were pretty popular. But in its time, the Walkman was a cultural phenomenon rivaling the ipod of today. It most definitely WAS something special.

I think we're in agreement (1)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285069)

"1. Speakerless. This yielded a smaller, lighter, less fragile, and lower power package."
"2. Good quality stereo playback. "
"While one might make a case for obviousness, I don't think that any of the earlier players that I'm aware of would reasonably qualify as prior art,"

I don't think we're disagreeing, I simply think he patented a smaller cassette deck and claims it as an invention.

Bear in mind the transistor radio already existed since the 1950's:
http://history.acusd.edu/gen/recording/images/8601 6a.jpg [acusd.edu]

The one at the front ONLY HAS AN EARPIECE, it doesn't have a speaker it was later that speakers became small enough to put one in.

http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/recording/tape4.ht ml [sandiego.edu]

And that the Compact Cassette (1965 Philips) was invented to make smaller players in Stereo.

Re:It was already available (1)

goldstein (705041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285237)

The Walkman style players depended on technical innovations such as high efficiency electric motors for the tape drive mechanism. The simple repackaging of an old style cassette player without the loudspeaker into a Walkman sized player would not have produced a viable product because the battery life and/or size would have been unacceptable. The development of the Walkman involved a great deal of skillful and innovative engineering work involving a host of design trade-offs. The breakthrough wasn't just a case of someone in marketting coming up with an idea along the lines of "lets make a really portable music player".

We are really talking about a variation of a existing products whose only reason for not existing is that they aren't feasible to make because the technology needed to implement them doesn exist. I fail to see how this amounts to any kind of real contribution.

The abstract of his european patent (1)

ipmp (598749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284998)

Abstract of EP0300395
In the device for storing an electrical connecting cable, which is connected between a portable, battery-powered programme source, which may be a small stereo unit, a cassette player and/or a radio receiver and is normally a so-called Walkman in all its forms, and the headphones or earphones connected to this programme unit, it is proposed that a separate cassette is provided which accommodates at least part of this connecting cable by means of a take-up arrangement and has its own enclosed form of casing, and that this cassette is attached, preferably locked into place, by means of mechanical locking means and/or electrical connecting means, which may also simultaneously form the mechanical locking means, to the casing of the programme unit. The take-up arrangement is preferably designed so that it automatically draws in the cable, but can hold it without tension by means of a mechanical fixing device when extended to any given length.

The list of the members of this patent family is here [espacenet.com] .

This is his USA 93 patent claiming 78 prioity date (2, Informative)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285132)

Great news (1)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284580)

Good to see him finally get the credit for his invention, it just goes to show that no matter how big a company is they can try and do devious stuff, like the current case of EMI not paying the Beatles their correct royalties. It just goes to show how the world is nowdays, where even the biggest of corporations are out to make a quick buck and screw over other people. Hopefully this win will remind them that eventually they will fail.

Stop the insanity. (0, Flamebait)

srussia (884021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284604)

The very notion of intellectual property rights is absurd.

Check out Sony's other mischief and malfeasance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284614)

Fair... (1)

Bomarrow1 (903375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284629)

I mean it seems to show that big corporations can steal interlectual property just like that but when it is reversed they kick up a real stink.
How is this fair?

Ideas are almost entirely worthless... (4, Insightful)

SpotBug (228742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284642)

I'll say it again: Ideas are almost entirely worthless.

Seriously. It's the implementation that counts. This is the problem most people have with the patent system, without even realizing that that's what their problem with it is.

Hey, here's any idea: personal transporters. You'd never have to waste time going anywhere!

Want something more realistic? Pretend it's 1990. How about a really, really good Internet search?

Patents should only be granted if the inventor has an implementation or, at the very least, a plan for an implementation with a time limit on when the implementation must happen.

Re:Ideas are almost entirely worthless... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284728)

I'll say it again: Ideas are almost entirely worthless.

Seriously. It's the implementation that counts. This is the problem most people have with the patent system, without even realizing that that's what their problem with it is.


If you would actually learn a bit about patent law you would find that Patents cover implementations, not ideas.

Re:Ideas are almost entirely worthless... (2, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284802)

Untrue. *many* patents are on ideas only.

It is not necessary to prove that an idea actually works before getting a patent on it.

Software and business patents are *entirely* idea based.

Re:Ideas are almost entirely worthless... (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284842)

You can't patent an idea, it's true you don't have to prove an idea works but you still need an implementation of an idea. You can't get a patent on the idea of banking software, or search. However, you can get a patent on the way you access data on said banking software.

Re:Ideas are almost entirely worthless... (1)

back_pages (600753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285677)

It is not necessary to prove that an idea actually works before getting a patent on it.

This is technically not true. See MPEP 2164.07 [uspto.gov] which states:

If a claim fails to meet the utility requirement of 35 U.S.C. 101 because it is shown to be nonuseful or inoperative, then it necessarily fails to meet the how-to-use aspect of the enablement requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph.

However, in practice, I think that some patents have been issued to clearly inoperative inventions because there is no harm to the public in doing so. The inventor gets his patent that cannot possibly be infringed. Inventor is happy and nobody is prohibited from doing anything.

So, like I said, technically your statement is not true. In practice it would appear that the issue of "operativeness" is a little flexible, depending on the circumstances.

And naturally anybody makes mistakes once in awhile.

Re:Ideas are almost entirely worthless... (1)

SpotBug (228742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284810)

Yes, I know. I should have been more specific.

When I wrote "implementation" I meant an actual, working implementation, as opposed to a piece of paper describing an implementation. Unless it's a blueprint, describing exactly how to put the invention together (with real, obtainable parts), a description of an implementation is still just a (nearly worthless) idea.

Re:Ideas are almost entirely worthless... (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284865)

Patent Law is created so you have full disclosure. You are required to disclose how your invention works. If there becomes a case where things cannot be patented because the market place hasn't found a way to make widget 2 good enough work with your invention. The inventor will sit on the patent until widget 2 is invented. This would encourage inventors to sit on their inventions contrary to the purpose of patent law. With full disclosure, inventor 2, knowing that there is a market for a new improved widget 2 is more likely to try to invent widget 2. Society is better off for it. That's the way its supposed to work in theory anyways.

And I'll say what has been said many times... (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284850)

RTFA. He made one in the 60s for himself. Then YEARS later he patented it.

At any rate, you need to read more about patents, I think. There is a minimum level of specificity that must be present in a patent, or the patent office will reject it, and especially with things that CAN have an implementation, they usually require one.

The patent office has lots of things wrong with it, but I generally think that this is one of the things they do pretty well if they understand the patent enough and aren't allowing nonsense to be patented.

My filthy fantasy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284667)

My filthy fantasy involves me, Jessica Lynch, Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice and the leash girl, Lynndie England.

Hillary and Condi would be dressed up in hot leather/latex dominatrix outfits with high heeled leather boots. Lynndie would be in her field BDU. They would humiliate me and the frail, petite Jessica in unimaginable ways; whipping our asses, making us lick their boots and pussies, abuse us verbally, fuck us with strap-ons while Lynndie would torment us with choke-chains. Oooh...

Re:My filthy fantasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14284805)

So, you like to be dominated by powerful women? It's not that filthy or unusual fantasy, you know.

The history of Grundig (4, Informative)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284684)

http://www.grundig.com/index.php?id=250 [grundig.com]

1965 The Cassette Recorder C 100 is the first cassette tape recorder made by Grundig. Recording takes place with the DC International System, on cassettes with the dimensions 120 x 77 x 12 mm.

1967 The CC Compact Cassette is introduced and can be listened to with the Cassette Tape Recorder C 200.

1974: The portable Radio Recorder C 6000 Automatic is a best-seller. Over 710,000 units are sold.

He filed for his patent in 1977.

Re:The history of Grundig (1)

tapitout (924142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284863)

All those items were mono output... the judgement was about stereo output.

Re:The history of Grundig (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285087)

Good point. Just that thing is like 10 times bigger and heavier than the stereobelt and actually a precursor to the ghettoblaster.

Take a look at this 1969 tape recorder (1)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285305)

"actually a precursor to the ghettoblaster." :-)

If you want something smaller, take a look at this one, according to the page its the first cassette recorder to go to the moon (unverified):

http://www.etedeschi.ndirect.co.uk/sony/picts/TC-5 0.jpg [ndirect.co.uk]
http://www.etedeschi.ndirect.co.uk/sony/ [ndirect.co.uk]

Re:The history of Grundig (1)

unexpected (635152) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285683)

One of the things about European patent laws is that patents are awarded to the person who invented it first regardless of when the patent was filed. Of course, instead of inventing the iPod, he decided to spend decades battling Sony in court. I mean, who uses walkmans these days? I don't even use my cd player anymore.

Sony evilness (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284866)

I'm lost with this one... is Sony evil or not this time?

Re:Sony evilness (1)

dana340 (914286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284947)

Let's just say good triumped over evil; it just took 25 years, and the vicotry is not really what this guy deserved. But the grundig story is raly interesting thoguh.

Remind me again... (1)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284902)

Remind me again, what are the companies that "vigorously defend" their IP rights?

Questions about the viability of the patent aside, this guy had it issued, and Sony violated it. The same company that has no problems suing thousands of its customers has no problem doing the same to an inventor, only on a much larger scale, and for 25 years without problems. Just to be clear: I don't condone either piracy and IP theft, but of the two categories, Sony has been the bigger thief. In fact, the company can be described as the 800 pound gorilla among IP thiefs.

No I didn't RTFA (-1, Offtopic)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14284963)

I run firefox on Linux Debian. What a mess. Of course I have javascript shut off and of course I run privoxy as well.

But that webpage would suc under the best of circumnstances. Ha! do these people even bother to check their work?

What a botch. We need to set up the website joke of the day club and capture some screenshots!

The thing is that there are competant webmasters. Unfortunately many are underemployed. I think ppl can add 2+2

Re:No I didn't RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14285098)

You can argue day and night about hacky 3-column layouts. That webpage had a button to turn it into a single column. No ads, the text was really text, the colours were tasteful.

It's fun to complain, but that seemed like a pretty reasonable use of web design (better than 90% of what /. links to)

So this is somehow different? (1)

RukuArtic (876389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285071)

I'm missing how when some person who holds a patent forever and then decides to make news x years later is either yay-ed (this case) or boo-ed (Blackberry case).

Whats the difference besides he didn't try to shutdown Sony?

Asians don't invent, they steal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14285206)

Just another data point to prove that Asians aren't capable of inventing anything. They just steal Westerners' ideas, but they productise them better than we do.

With all the outsourcing to Asia going on these days, fewer Westerners are going into science and engineering due to the bleak future in those professions, so Asians are going to have fewer ideas available to steal.

At some point, the advancement of science and technology will simply grind to a halt.

Prior Art: Portable MONO player (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285354)

Back at the exact same era when the 'Walkman' became the accessory that no flaky, rich 'New Wave Chick' would be without (**), I was walking the streets of Minneapolis playing Punk Rawk classics like the 'Suicide Commandoes' on a cheap thrift-store Cassette Tape Player. You know the kind: cheap little speaker inline with the tape compartment, piano-style keys for stop/play/rewind/ffwd/record.

I'm claiming prior art here and now.

(** And History Repeats Itself with the current iPod 'fashion' (***) statement)

(*** "Fashion, turn to the left. Fashion, turn to the right. Oooooooh, Beep Beep. We are the goon squad and we're coming to town!"- Dave Bowie on 'Scary Monsters, Super Creeps')

Sony always fucking people over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14285491)

Typical Sony, isnt it?

Wow! (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285514)

You mean, this guy removed the built-in speaker from a portable tape player (so that you HAVE to use headphones), and it's a new invention?

Amazing. Cough it up, Sony.

Obligatory (1, Informative)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14285777)

This was on Digg yesterday. And they also have a story about how some new Futurama stuff might get made.
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