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Fifty-Five Inventors In One Room

The Inventors Association of Manhattan meets once a month in the conference room of a Times Square law firm. Adam Davidson/NPR hide caption

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Adam Davidson/NPR

In his latest column for the New York Times Magazine, Adam Davidson wonders if this really is a golden age for American inventors. To find out, he attended an inventors conference in midtown Manhattan. Here's an account of his visit, excerpted from the column.

...Gathered around the room that evening were 55 people, old and young, in suits and T-shirts, everyone hoping that his or her idea could buck the odds. Chris Landano, a young, wiry firefighter, told me about his TrakPak360, a utility belt — perfect for photographers, carpenters, "anybody who carries tools!" — which is equipped with a plastic track that allows pouches to swing around easily.

Lorraine Muriello, a woman from New Jersey, described her borderline-brilliant (but extremely easy to rip off) idea: No Sweat Towels, gym towels with zippered pouches for keys and cellphones.

Her friend, Cheryl Manzone, told me she has filed countless patents over the past few decades (shoes with interchangeable heels, a compact diaper travel kit) and is now pitching her latest innovation, Stickpods, which are like straws with legs. They're for holding lollipops, among other treats...

America has always been the land of tinkerers...but today's basement inventors have it easy in ways their predecessors couldn't have imagined.

Read the full column here.