John A. Miller - Roller Coaster Visionary

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 1:38 PM
Know my question is this, since John Miller is know for being the inventor of the 3 wheel roller coaster system as well as the 'Safety Chain Dog' does his family get a cut of every roller coaster built since they are using designs that John Miller invented and patented? Also if it wasn't for John do you think roller coasters would be different then they are now?
Tuesday, April 27, 2004 2:53 PM
I think that patents expire after 17 years so I'm guessing not.

I'm sure that someone would have come up with the ideas that John Miller had if he didn't, but it might not have been for quite awhile, so who knows how advanced coasters would be nowadays if things had been different?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 2:54 PM
I think that his ideas were so practical, someone would have thought of it. Given that they still use his ideas today, I don't think coasters will change that much in their basic design (with the exception of propulsion perhaps).

Good question about the patents though. I'm not versed in basic patent law. Anyone?

Edit-Bob beat me to it. Remember that a lot of major inventions in the 20th century were being developed independently and simultaneously (mouthful eh?). I don't think we'd be any further behind if the inventions came along later. Heck, even if it were a 20-year difference, I don't think there'd be much difference. Look how quickly coasters went from switchback type rides to Harry Traver contraptions as soon as Miller's inventions came along. Were talking a couple of years at the most. *** Edited 4/27/2004 6:59:06 PM UTC by janfrederick***

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 3:32 PM
On a side note, I think that John Miller was a great inventor and is surely deserving of all the praise he gets, but there were stronger DESIGNERS out there at the time. Schmeck, IMO, was a much better designer because his rides seemed to have more character. Miller was great for designing pure out-and-backs and he designed a lot of them, but there is something about Schmeck rides that make them seem so much more unique.

janfrederick, you're probably right... even if Miller's innovations hadn't come along for another two decades, its likely that coaster evolution would have progressed so that things would have been equal today. Nowadays, the innovation is in forms of propulsion and seating, not "basic" things such as wheel assemblies and chain dogs.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 3:36 PM
Miller has the patent, so therefore we credit him with the invention. But its entirely possible that others were working on similar concepts and that Miller just beat them to the punch.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004 3:48 PM
All of Miller's patents are long since expired, so no one earns any money from them. If he retained the rights though, he probably made some decent money during the coaster building boom of the 1920's.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004 3:58 PM
There's an interesting question. My father works for a company that takes their employee's patents. Then again, he wouldn't have been able to develop his ideas without the company's resources. They do give them a nice bonus though.

So perhaps PTC made a tidy sum on the patents.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 7:48 PM
Most companies require all technical employees to sign patent agreements requiring that the employee assign the rights to the company for any patents related to the company's business or developed on the company's time.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004 9:04 PM
Well let's not forget that PTC was one of the firms that Miller was employed by at one point during his coaster building career.

Others such as Shmeck came along to work for the company long after Miller went out on his own,if I'm not mistaken right around the time he joined up with Harry Baker on the flying turns project.

Just read any coaster book & you'll find the information on Miller's career & patents right there in black & white...BTW Kennywood's Jackrabbit was the first coaster to use Miller's new 3 wheel design at that time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 9:03 AM
Schmeck actually worked FOR Miller when he was PTC's designer. It wasn't until Miller went off on his own in the early '20s when Schmeck started designing rides.

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