Apple Obtains Multitouch Patent From Canadian Inventor, First Filed In 1995

In 1995, a Canadian inventor named Timothy R. Pryor filed a patent that appears to be an early predecessor to multitouch. Described broadly as “a method for providing human input to a computer which allows a user to interact with a display connected to the computer,” the patent outlines the idea of a touch-sensing display, and even describes a way to sense multiple objects at once.

Apple 1995 Multitouch Patent

It now seems that Apple has bought the patent from Mr. Pryor, according to Engadget and the US Patent and Trademark Office. The terms of the deal are still mysterious, as neither Apple nor Pryor could be reached for comment. All we know is that Apple is now listed as the assignee of the patent, which was renewed in July of 2009.

Apple Obtains Canadian Invented Multitouch Patent Filed In 1995

The full description of the invention (as included in the original 1995 patent filing) can be seen below, and offers a pretty modern-looking description of a multitouch interface, considering it was written 17 years ago. To put it in perspective, 1995 was the year that Internet Explorer 1.0 came out, Ebay and Hotmail were founded, and the first Pentium processor was released by Intel.

The invention provides a method for providing human input to a computer which allows a user to interact with a display connected to the computer. The method includes the steps of placing a first target on a first portion of the user’s body, using an electro-optical sensing means, sensing data related to the location of the first target and data related to the location of a second portion of the user’s body, the first and second portions of the user’s body being movable relative to each other, providing an output of the electro-optical sensing means to the input of the computer, determining the location of the first target and the location of the second portion of the user’s body, and varying the output of the computer to the display based upon the determined locations for contemporaneous viewing by the user.

Will Apple use this newly acquired patent to aid them with their patent disputes? What are your thoughts on Apple being in possession of this patent? Share your responses in the comments section.

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