High Over Kitty Hawk, Looking for a Profit. In their day, the Wright brothers’ achievement was barely recognized, and their motives far from visionary. By Paul Hoffman. [New York Times: Opinion]

Brilliant.

On the other hand:

In the end, the advance they made in flight technology was quickly
squandered. European aviators lost little time in following the Wrights
into the air. The brothers did receive a patent on their stabilization
system in 1906, and they spent years trying to enforce it on both sides
of the Atlantic. They were particularly zealous in going after American
infringers Ö and the divisive, protracted court battles may have slowed
down the commercialization of the plane on this side of the Atlantic.
As one government official in 1917 put it, the brothers’ lawsuits
caused the country to fall “from first place to last of all the great
nations in the air” Ö not exactly the stuff of legends.

And the patent madness continues to this day.


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