Pinched again!

So now it seems that Apple did not, in 2005, invent the “pinch to zoom” gesture that Myron Krueger had already implemented in 1983.

According to a recent US Patent and Trademark Office ruling, in fact it was Bran Ferren and Danny Hillis who in 2005 invented the pinch to zoom gesture that Mr. Krueger created thirty years ago.

So my apologies to those of you who read my earlier post congratulating Apple on its brilliant invention of Krueger’s technique. It turns out that Ferren and Hillis deserve all of the credit for this bold innovation.

I can imagine that some of you might be confused by this turn of events. You may, for example, be thinking of some sort of bizarre alternate universe in which the first to conceive of an innovation, to reduce that innovation to practice, to publicly demonstrate that achievement, has perhaps some vague claim on said invention.

But no, we do not live in such a world. We live here in the real world, where objective truth, proper credit, and true authorship are determined the old fashioned way: Through the sheer hard work and persistent efforts of a highly paid legal team.

So as you watch this video made in 1988, which documents the system that Krueger had first implemented five years earlier, pay particular attention to what happens at 4:30.

It may look for all the world as though you are seeing a two finger pinch to zoom gesture. But in fact that is impossible, since as any good lawyer will tell you, pinch to zoom was not invented until 2005.

Which means that you must be hallucinating. You really need to stop using those drugs.

5 thoughts on “Pinched again!”

  1. Unless you are only hallucinating you have Krueger’s “Artificial Reality”. Which would mean, I guess, that it exists in an artificial artificial reality reality. 🙂

  2. The action the USPTO took on July 29 was to issue a “final” rejection in Apple’ reexamination case. I use quotes around final because until a reexamination certificate is issued the process isn’t over. That rejection found that claims in Apple’s patents were not new because they were “taught” in a combination of other patents including the Herrin/Hillis document. To show that A is not new one needs just to show that B teaches the same thing as A and came before A, not that B was the very first. What really came first is a whole different question not at all at issue in the reexamination of A. Also this is unrelated to what claims B may have. B may anticipate what A claims but have not claimed what A claims.

  3. The “final” rejection is available at after getting through the Capcha, the reexamin case “application” number is 90/012,332. Some things earlier than the Herrin/Hillis are cited and one from Japan seems to be much more heavily relied on than Herrin/Hillis.

    All of the back and forth between patent owners (issued patents) and the USPTO is a matter of public record.

  4. Thanks George for this very helpful exegesis. So it turns out that the East Hampton Star article I linked to was taking liberties with the facts.

    Who knew that journalists are not to be trusted? 😉

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