Between 1838, when the United States Patent Office opened its doors, and 1996, the year that Jack Hope wrote a story about the device for American Heritage magazine, more than 4,400 mousetrap patents were awarded in dozens of different subclasses, including "Electrocuting and Explosive," "Swinging Striker," "Choking or Squeezing," and 36 others. That's an average of more than two dozen patents every year for more than 150 years. What makes that number more spectacular is that 95 percent of those patents were given to amateur, or first-time inventors.
That's more patents than have been awarded for any other device, according to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History (NMAH), which is currently celebrating the mousetrap by displaying several different designs on the first floor of the museum in one of several long glass cases that greet visitors, both new and returning, when they enter the building.
Nicholas Jackson writes in The Atlantic about various mousetrap designs and how they represent the entrepreneurial spirit. Included is a gallery of some of the more interesting mousetrap patents recorded over the years. Link -via Look at This
Couldn't the museum spring for a door that only returning visitors could use? I know i wouldnt want to waste my visit looking at stuff i already seen. (JK)