Industrial Light and Magic

Mary Hallock Greenewalt received 11 patents for her “color organ,” an early form of synthesizer. She would spend the rest of her life defending them. Words and animation at https://www.topic.com/industrial-light-and-magic

Patent No. 1,357,773: “Rheostat” (1920)
The rheostat was an essential mechanism of the Sarabet. It was an electrical device that varied the resistance of the electrical current so that Greenewalt could produce smooth fade-ups and fade-outs of light as she played. In this patent application, she describes the rheostat as “compact and substantial of a commercially practicable design; relatively simple as regards the aggregate number and arrangement of its parts, and at the same time includes a series of contact blocks and moveable contact member adapted for operation by human, mechanical or automatic power.”
The rheostat would become a standard tool for electronic instruments, and when General Electric infringed on Greenewalt’s patent in 1932, she sued. At first, a judge denied hearing the case, determining that the rheostat was too complex to have been invented by a woman. This decision was overturned on appeal by Judge Hugh Morris, who described Greenewalt as “a true artist” in his decision, and she eventually won the case.
Patent No. 1,385,944: “Notation for Indicating Light Effects” (1921)
“The object of my present invention is to provide a score comprising names, numerals, marks, symbols, hieroglyphs, or the like, constituting a chart or record sheet for denoting or interpreting a lighting sequence or succession to accompany music,” wrote Greenewalt in this patent. It involved Greenewalt’s translation of Beethoven’s 1801 “Moonlight” Sonata into a notation readable by a Sarabet player. Full video available here with interpreted tonalities by Melissa Grey https://www.topic.com/industrial-light-and-magic

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