History Of The Inventors Society of South Florida
Robert E. and Betty L. White started the Palm Beach Society of American Inventors, Inc. (PBSAI) in 1982 to educate and assist the inventor. It was incorporated in 1983 as a nonprofit corporation with tax exempt status 501 (c) (3). PBSAI was a member of the National Congress of Inventors Organizations (NCIO). Neither Bob nor Betty were inventors. They just enjoyed being around people with innovative minds who did not know how to convert an idea into a successful venture.
Bob, working for the county, found out about a community center in Boynton Beach that the society could use for meetings. The society met in that building for about 20 years. There was no cost to use it. The only requirement was for the group to leave it clean. The society grew from a small group to several hundred. Most meetings had an attendance of 50-80 people.
Bob filled in as an officer when one had to give up a position. He was committed to the society. Betty organized events and worked on awards. She inspired people to support society activities. When anyone called the society, Betty answered, “Can I help you?” Betty was the heart of the society.
Bob and Betty encouraged creative people to share their knowledge and experience with want-to-be inventors at monthly meetings. Bob an Betty loved what they were doing and everyone loved them. Also, they held all kinds of events where inventors could show off their talents. Although the Whites are no longer with us, each year the ISSF honors them by presenting the Bob & Betty White Award to someone for outstanding service and assistance contributing to the advancement of the society.
The aims of PBSAI were to:
- Promote innovation by encouraging inventors and investors.
- Educate the inventor in patenting, evaluating, marketing, protecting, producing and licensing.
- Hold exhibits so investors, developers and the public will be more aware of what inventors are doing.
- Hold lectures and seminars to educate the inventor and potential inventor.
In the words of Board Member Harriet Efrom in 1988,
“The Palm Beach Society of American Inventors, Inc. helps you to grow. They are mind farmers. They plant seeds of information, cultivate them with answers and pamphlets on many subjects and provide conversation with other inventors helping you to bloom and reach a profit.”
The PBSAI met the first Saturday of each month with and open business meeting from 10:30 AM to noon and the regular meeting following at 1 PM until 4 PM. At every regular meeting there was a speaker on one of the many subjects of interest to the inventor. Meeting location was at the Royal Palm Clubhouse, 544 NE 22nd Avenue, Boynton Beach, FL (which no longer exists). This was the Chamber of Commerce Building. Here the board meeting occurred 10:30 am to noon and the general meeting occurred from 1-5 PM. Meeting features were a snack table and lots of time for networking.
Monthly newsletters were four pages that included short articles, tidbits of information, advertisers, club officers and location. Newsletters began issue in 1982 with Volume 1 and Number (1-12) in accordance with the months of the year. Notices of special events were printed on colored paper to make them stand out from the monthly newsletter. As many as 3000 newsletters per month were assembled and mailed through the collaborative effort of the Board members. Jerry G. Phillips was a research director. Betty L. White was the representative to the NCIO and a newsletter editor.
The PBSAI offered many opportunities for inventors. One event celebrated National Inventors Day in February. This included many small exhibits, one seminar and a banquet in which awards were given to inventors. Awards given:
- PBSAI National Inventors Plaque (open to any US inventor)
- PBSAI Handicapped Invention Plaque (open to any US inventor)
- PBSAI State Inventor of the Year (open to Florida inventors only)
- PBSAI Inventor of the Year (open to members only)
Through the years, numerous society members have contributed their valuable time and expertise to the furtherance of the society’s goals. Many names appear year after year. It is this continuing contribution of members that makes the organization strong and fruitful for all the members. In the words of Board Member Michael Kushner in 1988,
“We need your help to keep the creative people of this area creating. You too can help, so that we can continue to support those with ideas to benefit us all. Come visit with us, see what we do for everyone who comes to us. We offer hope, encouragement, guidance and formulate information for success. America is first because the individual is first. From Henry Ford to Thomas Edison, the idea must be kept alive.”
On June 2, 1990, the Board of Directors filed an entity name change. The society officially changed its name to the Inventors Society of South Florida because most members lived in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. On July 20, 1990, the Board of Directors filed amended bylaws. Among other changes, the purpose of the society became twofold:
- Educate in the field of inventing
- Bring together inventors and investors.
Meeting times have varied a half hour or so around the current times of noon for the board meeting and 1 PM for the general meeting. Meeting locations varied after leaving the Royal Palm Clubhouse in Boynton Beach, and then in early 2000 found a home at the Enterprise Development Center at 3998 FAU Boulevard in Boca Raton.