Inventors live a life of ‘firsts” where the ideas they dream up become new products, create solutions, and sometimes just bring a smile. To kick off August’s series on for National Inventors Month, I reached out to an inventor who always makes me smile – the one and only Lon Safko.
Lon is the founder of eleven successful companies, including Paper Models, Inc., which developed Three-Dimensional Internet Advertising for business, promotions, and education, for which Lon holds two patents one on Virtual Electronic Retailing and the other Three Dimensional Internet Advertising.(US Pat. 7072949 and US Pat. 7546356) and has a third pending. As an inventor in the early days of personal computing and software development, the patent laws were different. If Lon’s copyrights from the ’80’s and ’90’s were patents like we do it today, he would have an additional 125 software and 35 hardware patents.
Lon been recognized for his creativity with such prestigious awards as; The Westinghouse Entrepreneur of the Year, Arizona Innovation Network’s Innovator of the Year, The Arizona Software Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year, twice nominated for the Ernst & Young / Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, The Public Relations Society of America’s, Edward Bernays, Mark of Excellence Award, and nominated as a Fellow of the nation’s Computer History Museum. Lon has also been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, PC Novice, Inc. Magazine, and Popular Science Magazines just to name a few. Lon was recently selected by the Smithsonian institution to represent “The American Inventor” at their annual conference.
I chatted with Lon this week and asked him a few questions. Here is what he had to say…
“When you see your world in a different perspective, you see new ways to do everything!” ~ Lon Safko
What is your favorite invention?
I like all of the obvious one’s like the car, electricity, the light bulb. No invention has affected my life more than the computer. From the very first Apple II until today. I learn from it, make a living from it, am entertained by it, manage my companies with it, communicate through it, and make a living from it. If you take away every major modern invention today, but leave me my computer… I can still do it all!
Why do you invent?
Because I see things. I make matches. I see a problem, then immediately see something that can be combined to solve that problem. It’s kind of like a Google search engine in my head, everything just matches together. I also look at things from behind, backwards, upside down. Like the paper models that have become so popular . (For one of Lon’s favorite models click here. They are fun for kids and grown ups alike not to mention great for classroom projects.)
What was it like the first time you saw one of your inventions in the Smithsonian?
Wow! It was humbling. Before I saw the items, they published a newsletter, that featured: Darwin, Wyeth, Edison, and Safko. That was insane! When they actually asked me to represent the “American Inventor” at their annual conference, I couldn’t speak. I did speak, just not for a day after they asked. Having 18 inventions in the Smithsonian Institute and more than 30,000 personal documents, is like being an actor and winning 18 Academy Awards. The “Smith” is the ultimate valuator. I guess to make a short story long, I felt honored.
How does your passion for innovation and invention tie into your work and books on Social Media.
Just as when the computer first came out, I immediately recognized it as disruptive technology. Then it was the Internet. Then Email. Then eCommerce. Then Social Media. We haven’t even scratched the surface on how we can combine all of these technologies to create amazing new applications. And, social media incorporates many of my passions; innovation, creativity, communications, computers, marketing, and sales. It’s just the next cutting edge innovation!
( Lon’s book on social media, The Social Media Bible, at 840 pages is by far the biggest book there is on the topic. It’s choc full of the stories of the the evolution of the medium though interviews with the innovators and inventors how have pioneered the industry. Watch for The Social Media Bible II coming out this Fall from John Wiley and Sons.)
I hope you enjoyed meeting one of my “inventor” friends. There are more to come.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…