Harvey Patents Invention Overview

In the early 1980's, PMC founder, John Harvey, and his technical collaborator, Jim Cuddihy, wanted to create visionary new ways to personalize media delivery. So they invented and disclosed methods to control communications networks and equipment to bring these new media capabilities to life.   In 1981 Harvey and Cuddihy described their inventions controlling any communication network, and to illustrate how it would all work, they used examples including cable and satellite television networks.  Then in 1987 they described enhancements that emphasized computers and more robust processing capability.

The video, audio and data that make up today’s Internet are physically delivered over these very same networks that were originally limited to cable and satellite television.  As "today" as the Internet seems to us, its physical infrastructure uses the same networks that have been with us for decades--coming to our homes and offices by modems attached to our cable tv systems or through high speed telephone lines.

Many of the products and services we use today – that we take for granted today – are examples of the far-sighted inventiveness of the Harvey patents. Personal computers were just beginning to be available in the early 1980’s. The Harvey patents imagined a future, which we currently inhabit, in which computers would be used to personalize and to control a whole range of media.

Below are just some of the examples used to illustrate what the Harvey Patents enable:

  • personalized advertising tailored to a specific person’s interests or shopping history,
  • individualized maps that show an individual’s restaurant preferences on top of a generic city map,
  • updates for computers or smartphones for that specific make and model,
  • protection for video-on-demand rentals that combat piracy,
  • using a TV’s remote control to buy something seen on a show.

The crucial insight of the Harvey patents was combining mass information with personal information using control systems and computers. How that information got to people, i.e. did it come over a phone line or a cable -- or any other network “pipe” -- really didn’t matter. The illustrations in the patents show all manner of networks being used. Those networks originally carried mostly voice and television signals but of course now carry Internet data as well. The patents work the very same way today, controlling the information which flows through the same physical networks.