Barry Rabin could hardly hide his glee over the five "kinder and gentler" staple removers he had just purchased.
"Look at this!" he cried. "We're going to go and unstaple everything in the world!"Kinder. Gentler. Bigger. Better. Faster. Cheaper. The tenets of entrepreneurial ingenuity were on display at the Eighth Annual Invention Convention.
Hundreds of inventors, some with half a dozen patents under their names and many more ideas under their hats, exhibited their best creations as they vied for distributors, investors and honors.
Three Bulbie Awards - shaped like, what else, light bulbs - were handed out at this year's ceremony. Donald Banner, former U.S. commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, received one award; Stanley Mason, who created the squeeze ketchup bottle and the first form-fitting diaper, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award; and Roberta Toole, founder of the United Inventors Association, was honored posthumously.
The scissorslike staple remover - a buck apiece - was a hit not only with consumers like Rabin but also with judges, who gave it the convention's business and office invention award.
Winner in the food and beverage category was Cellfoam, a type of biodegradable cellulose that can be shaped into such products as disposable cups, plates and packing material.
With so many difficulties involved in getting a prototype, patent and patronage, why do these inventors keep churning out gizmos?
"It's the American dream to eventually make it big. If you keep having ideas, eventually one will click," said Jim Butterfield, whose shoulder-supported helmets are his second invention. "Besides, it keeps you from getting bored with life."