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Publication numberUS3199098 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 3, 1965
Filing dateFeb 14, 1963
Priority dateFeb 14, 1963
Publication numberUS 3199098 A, US 3199098A, US-A-3199098, US3199098 A, US3199098A
InventorsSchwartz Samuel A
Original AssigneeSchwartz Samuel A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Display apparatus having spheres mounted on rods
US 3199098 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

3, 1965 s. A. SCHWARTZ 3,399,098


Aug. 3, 1965 s. A. SCHWARTZ 3,199,098

DISPLAY APPARATUS HAVING SPHERES MOUNTED ON RODS 1 Filed Feb. 14, 1963 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 $4 56 D474 a0 f 0A TA 5 //VPU7' REG/57E? Jl READ/N DATA DATA i T a? SHIFT 5705465 0500052 w h iukihim CONTROL REG/575E 2 70 I j i LLL o SOLENOID DEA/5E5 i 0/1721 /NPU7' 5AMUL A. Sawmrzrz IN VEN TOR.

United States Patent 3,199,098 DESPLAY APPARATUS HAVENG SPEERES MOUNTED 0N RODS Samuel A. Schwartz, 324 Langton Ave, Los Altos, Calif. Filed Feb. 14, 1953, Ser. No. 253,444 11 Claims. ((Il. 340324) This invention relates to a novel and improved display system, and in particular to a display system having a multiplicity of discrete information indicating elements that may be varied to display animated images or changing characters.

Presently known display boards may be of the fixed image type whereby the composite image is immobile and unchangeable, such as painted billboards and the like. Other known displays are composed of many elements formed as characters, letters, and numbers that may be manually interchanged. This type of display may be found at lunch counters and cafeterias, for example.

There are many display systems that employ a large number of fixed indicating elements for presenting binary type information. The elements may be varied to achieve animated images or to present a changing message. Generally, these display systems require separate switching circuits and/ or actuating devices for each fixed element to vary the information. One example is the New York Times news display that utilizes hundreds of incandescent bulbs that .are selectively lighted to flash news bulletins. However, it is necessary to provide individual circuits for each bulb to achieve the binary type ONOF=F switching opera-tion. Such a system becomes complex, costly, and requires extensive maintenance and repair. Large amounts of electrical power are utilized for lighting and relight-ing the bulbs, and the switching elements often require replacement. Furthermore, the packing density or number of informationbits per unit area is limited by the standard size of the bulbs used.

Other schemes propose the use of fluorescent bulbs, or phosphorescent elements such as electroluminescent cells and light amplifiers. However, presently known display apparatus are subject to many limitations, generally found with the switching arrangement.

One known means for displaying binary type information comprises spherical elements having hemispherical portions with contrasting colors, such as black and white. Rotation of the sphere or ball presents a discrete bit of information, and a composite of the binary bits represents an image or character, or a plurality or combination of these. Such type of display device is set forth in US. Patents 3,025,512 and 3,036,300. This type of device which is inexpensive to manufacture, may be a plastic or other low cost material, of any desired size, and of low weight. Also, each element has .a wide angle of discerna-bility or large parallax. But such devices of the known prior art are also limited in that the indicating elements or spheres are fixed in position, and in addition require separate actuating devices associated with each indicating element. Such a display apparatus becomes cumbersome as the number of elements are increased, and experiences the difficulties of additional maintenance and repair, excessive power requirements, and other costly factors. 7

An object of this invention is to provide a novel and improved display system that is capable of displaying animated images and changing characters.

In accordance with this invention, a display apparatus comprises a multiplicity of information indicating elements that may be transported through a viewing plane to present varying information. The elements are preferably of the binary information type, having two stable conditions, one representing zero information, the other ice representing binary one information. The elements are mounted in rows or columns on individual supports or rods that are driven along the viewing plane, preferably at a substantially constant speed. Before appearing the viewing plane, each rod passes a writing or selective energizing device that simultaneously activates selected elements on the rod so that information is written thereon, for presentation upon arrival of the rod in the viewing plane. After leaving the viewing plane, the elements are erased or reset by an erasing device.

In a particular embodiment of the invention, the indicating elements are spheres, with one face or hemisphere being black (binary 1) and the other face being white (binary 0). Initially, the spheres are mounted so that the white surfaces face the viewer. Each sphere is formed with two toothed or geared arcuate portions that are diametrically opposed. One geared portion that enables writing, causes rotation of the sphere when meshed with a cooperating write rack so that the black hemisphere will be presented to the viewer. The other geared portion affords resetting of the spheres that were rotated to white or binary zero thereby providing the erase function.

The information or intelligence may be derived from a data storage or transmission system, and is applied to a data shift register apparatus that causes a row or line of spheres to be selectively actuated simultaneously. The shift register energizes solenoid drivers, for example, that project selected movable write racks for engagement with the writing geared portion.

The invention will be described in greater detail with reference to the drawing in which:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of the display apparatus of this invention, with portions removed for simplicity and convenience of explanation;

FIGURE 2 is an elevational view of a segment of a rod carrying the spheres or indicating elements, 'in accordance with this invention;

FIGURE 3 is a side elevational view of a single indicating element of this invention;

FIGURE 4 is a front elevational view, partly broken away, of an inventive indicating element;

gIGURE 5 is a top view of the indicating element; an

FIGURE 6 is a schematic and block diagram of a system used in conjunction with the display apparatus.

With reference to FIGURES 1 and 2, an embodiment of the invention comprises a multiplicity of information indicating elements 10 in the form of spheres (only a fractional number being shown), mounted coaxially and equally spaced on'a supporting rod 12. The spheres 10 may be made of a lightweight plastic material, such as nylon, that is easily produced by a mold. With further reference to FIGURES 3, 4 and 5, each sphere 10 has a white hemispheric face 14 and a black hemispheric face 16, which may comprise a coating of pigment having phosphorescent material incorporated therein. The coating may be deposited by spraying, or other well known methods. Each sphere 10 has a toothed or geared portion 18 that defines a circumvolution or semicircular arcuate path at the upper portion of the sphere, and which encompasses a' part of each hemisphere 14 and 16. Diametrically opposed at the lower portion of the sphere is a second similar geared portion 20. The first geared portion 18 serves as part of the writing mechanism; whereas the second geared portion 20 serves as part of the erasing mechanism, as described hereinafter.

Each rod 12 with its spheres 10 (seven spheres for each rod illustrated by way of example) is coupled to a rectangular strip 22, such as aluminum or other sturdy metal having either a neutral shade or color that approximates the white hemisphere 14, to provide a contrasting background for the black surfaces 16. The strips 22 are aligned in tandem and closely adjacent to each other so that all adjacent spherical elements are spaced equidistantly, horizontally or vertically, to form a display matrix. The strips 22 with the associated rods 12 and spheres are secured between a pair of endless belts 24 that are transported clockwise by pulleys 26 mounted on shafts 28 driven by a constant frequency motor 30.

During operation, the belts 24 carrying the strips 22, rods 12 and spheres 10 are transported clockwise so that the display pattern may be read from left to right. It is to be understood that the display of this invention may also be presented for vertical movement of the viewing plane, i.e., from top to bottom, or any other plane of orientation, if so desired. Each rod 12 that is leaving the viewing plane carries spheres 10 having a combination of white surfaces 14 and black surfaces 16 facing externally from the belt and pulley system. Before rewriting information along the rod, it is necessary to erase the prior information by resetting the spheres 10 so that the black surfaces 16 face inwardly and the white surfaces 14 face externally. This erase action is achieved by means of a rack bar 32 that carries the same number of toothed gears or racks 34 as the number of spheres on each rod 12. (For purpose of convenience of explanation, the erase rack bar 32 is shown detached, but it is understood that the bar 32 is fixed securely in position within the confines of the belts 24.)

As each rod 12 passes the erase rack bar 32, those spheres 10 that have the white surfaces 14 facing inwardly to the rack bar 32 also have the lower toothed portion 20 facing the bar 32. The lower toothed portion 20 engages the teeth of the associated rack 34, and the continuous motion of the belt mounted strip 22 and rod 12 imparts a torque which causes the sphere to rotate 180 so that the white surface 14 now faces outward. In those cases where the sphere 10 has its white hemisphere facing out, the erase rack 34 associated with that sphere does not rotate the sphere, because only a toothless slot 36 continuous with the toothed portion 20 traverses the erase rack 34.

After the erase process, the rod 12 then approaches a writing rack assembly 38. The writing assembly 38 includes solenoids 40 that may be selectively actuated by a programmed switching device 42. Each solenoid 40 serves to project and retract a spring-loaded write rack 44 in accordance with the information received from the switching device 42. The number of write racks 44 and solenoids 40 is the same as the number of spheres 10 that are mounted on a rod 12.

When a solenoid 40 has been energized by the switching device 42, the rack 44 is extended to engage the upper toothed portion or write gear 18 of the sphere 10. As the rod 12 progresses past the extended writing rack 44, the sphere 10 is rotated 180 to show the black surface 16 externally relative to the display apparatus. If a rack 44 associated with a sphere 10 has not been projected by solenoid action, no rotation of the sphere occurs and the white surface 14 will face outwardly. All the spheres 10 on any one rod 12 may be set simultaneously, according to information received by the switching device 42. After the writing process, the driven rod 12 carries the spheres 10 to the viewing plane for visual presentation. All the spheres 10 in the viewing plane form a composite image 'orcharacter display in accordance with information received from the program device 42.

When'any sphere 10 is at rest, that is, not being rotated, the sphere 10 remains fixed by means of a tapered detent in the lower portion of the sphere that seats on a detent pin 46 secured through the rod 12. When the sphere is being rotated, the frictional engagement of the toothed portion 18 or 20 causes the sphere to ride up along the taper of the detent to allow the 180 rotation. At the end of the rotation, resilient means 48, such as compression spring located along the rod 12 adjacent to each sphere snaps the sphere back into a detented position.

To ensure that the write racks 44 will be in proper alignment for engaging the write gears 18 of corresponding spheres 10 of any rod 12 at such time when the rod is in juxtaposition with the column of solenoids 40, a switching device 50, such as a microswitch, is located in the path of the rods 12 preceding and very close to the solenoids 40. Each rectangular strip 22 mounted to a rod 12 has a projecting area or finger 52 that depresses or trips the microswitch 59 thereby closing the circuit, which includes the program device 42 and the solenoids 40. Thus the bit information stored in the program device 42 actuates the line of solenoids 40, so that the spring loaded write racks 44 are selectively projected in coincidence with the arrival of a sphere carrying rod 12 in the write position.

In order to provide the necessary intelligence to the write apparatus of the display system, a shift register may be employed, as illustrated in FIGURE 6. Data may be received from a transmission line, for example, and stored in a read-in or buffer stage 54, which may be a tape apparatus. The data may be fed to a reader or decoder 56 through a switch 58, when the display apparatus commences operation. Alternatively, the input data may be passed directly through the switch 58 to the decoder 56.

The decoded composite information signal may include display information, shift data, and motor control signals. The display data is channeled from the decoder 56 to an input register 60 that stores the serial information bits that have been read out in sequence, in accordance with bit data shift signals that are also supplied by the decoder. The decoder 56 additionally feeds a line shift signal to a control register 62, which provides parallel storage and simultaneously passes the stored bits of information as an information line. The registers 60 and 62 may be conventional, and may comprise memory core circuits well known in the art. The shift signals may be derived from a constant frequency or clock signal source. The discrete information signals are directed concurrently from the control register 62 to drive the line of solenoids 40, each bit being passed to a corresponding solenoid.

The decoder 56 further provides a tone signal to a motor control 64 that serves to control the rotational velocity of the motor 33, which drives the shaft 28 and transports the display elements through, the viewing plane, In this manner, the display elements pass through the viewing plane at a substantially constant speed.

In the apparatus of FIGURE 6, a jumping cam 66 is coupled to the drive motor 30 to control the alignment of the write gears 18 with the write racks 44, in the same manner as provided by the microswitch device 50 shown in FIGURE 1. The cam 66 causes a switch 68 to open and close periodically by virtue of a finger 70 that rides on the undulating periphery of the cam 66. The switch controls the energization of the solenoid drive circuit 70 so that the solenoids 46 are actuated with the arrival of each rod 12 in Write position. It is apparent that various alternatives are possible for aligning the write gears 18 properly with the line of solenoids 40 and the write racks 44.

It is also noted that the scope of the invention is not limited to the embodiment set forth above. Thus, as an alternative, the spherical elements may be fixed in position, and the column of solenoids may be driven to achieve the write function. The erase rack may also be driven in conjunction with the solenoids.

Furthermore, the display elements may be elliptical or in another shape provided that the write and erase gears are made to mesh with the write and erase racks as necessary. Also, the colors may be other than black and white for contrast, and a number of colors could be utilized to achieve a color display. In this regard, a plurality of colors could be used with each sphere, or triads consisting of separate display elements having dilferent colors, e.g., blue, red and green, may be employed.

There has been described a variable display apparatus having the advantages of simplicity, economy of manufacture and maintenance, and low power requirements.

What is claimed is:

1. A variable display system comprising:

a multiplicity of rods fixed in seriatim in an endless loop that includes a viewing plane;

a number of spherical elements mounted on each rod,

having hemispheres of contrasting colors, each element having a write gear;

means for transporting said rods and elements in such endless loop; and

means for engaging the Write gears selectively to present the desired hemispheres for display in the viewing plane.

2. A variable display system comprising:

a multiplicity of rods fixed in series in a pulley driven belt system;

a number of spherical elements mounted on each rod, having colored hemispheres, each element having a Write gear;

means for transporting said rods and elements in an endless loop that includes a viewing plane;

means for engaging the Write gears to present the desired colored hemispheres for display; and

switching means for selecting such Write gears for engagement with said engaging means.

3. A moving display system comprising:

a multiplicity of rods;

a number of spherical elements mounted on each rod, having colored hemispheres, each element having a toothed portion;

means for transporting said rods and elements in an endless loop that includes a viewing plane;

means for engaging the toothed portions to rotate the elements to a desired position, including racks controlled by solenoid-s; and

a switching device for selectively actuating such solenoids to form a display.

4. A moving display system comprising:

a multiplicity of rods;

a number of spherical elements mounted on each rod, having different faces, each'element having a write gear;

means for transporting said rods and elements in an endless loop that includes a viewing plane, such transporting means including a constant frequency drive motor;

means for selectively engaging the write gears to pre sent the desired faces for display, including write racks;

switching means for periodically selecting Write racks for engagement with associated Write gears; and

a swinging device correlated with the transporting means to ensure proper alignment of the write gears with the Write racks when selected for engagement.

5. A moving display system comprising:

a multiplicity of rods;

a number of spherical elements mounted on each rod, having colored hemispheres, each element having a write gear;

means for transporting said rods and elements in an endless loop that includes a viewing plane;

means for engaging the write gears selectively to rotate the selected elements thereby presenting the desired colored hemispheres for display, including write rack-s;

switching means for selecting such write racks for engagement with the desired write gears; and

a shift register for supplying signals to said switching means for selective actuation of the Write racks.

6. A moving display system comprising:

a multiplicity of rods;

a number of spherical elements mounted on each rod,

each spherical element having two stable states represented by a white face and black face respectively, each element having a Write gear;

means for transporting said rods and elements in an endless loop that includes a viewing plane; and

means for engaging the write gears selectively to present one of the faces of each element for display.

7. A moving display system as in claim 6 including an erase rack bar for setting the spherical elements in one of the stable states prior to selective engagement of the Write gears with the engaging means.

8. A moving display system comprising:

a multiplicity of rods;

a number of spherical elements mounted on each rod,

having hemispheres of contrasting colors, each element having a Write gear, said spherical elements being spaced by resilient means along each rod, and being seated in a detent position;

means for transporting said rods and elements in an endless loop that includes a viewing plane; and

means for engaging the write gears selectively to present the desired hemispheres for display.

9. A variable display system as in claim 2, wherein each element has a toothed portion; and said engaging means includes solenoid controlled racks.

it A variable display system as in claim 2, wherein said transporting means includes a constant frequency drive motor.

11. A variable display system as in claim 2, wherein a shift register is utilized for supplying said signals to said switching means.

References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 989,290 4/11 Rhame et a1, 340324 2,343,294 3/44 Haselton et al. 340154 2,533,877 12/50 Chtikan 340-365 2,779,016 1/57 Snell 340-378 3,025,512 3/62 Bloechl 340378 FOREIGN PATENTS 592,275 1/34 Germany.

NEIL C. READ, Primary Examiner.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3374565 *Sep 27, 1965Mar 26, 1968Recognition Equipment IncMoving display system
US3389389 *Jan 11, 1965Jun 18, 1968Neonix IncMoving message sign
US3482344 *Dec 12, 1966Dec 9, 1969Trans Lux CorpDisplay apparatus
US3486258 *Dec 6, 1967Dec 30, 1969Contraves AgMovable display arrangement
US3487568 *Jun 9, 1967Jan 6, 1970Woolfolk Robert LDisplay apparatus
US3685040 *Apr 13, 1970Aug 15, 1972Science Associates IncDisplay apparatus
US3696395 *Aug 5, 1970Oct 3, 1972Norman BarronManually controlled automatic information display device
US3942274 *Apr 15, 1974Mar 9, 1976Ferranti-Packard LimitedStrip module for sign element
US4040193 *Jun 9, 1976Aug 9, 1977Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.Display device
US4115941 *Mar 7, 1977Sep 26, 1978American Sign & Indicator CorporationDisplay and reset apparatus
US4223464 *Mar 22, 1979Sep 23, 1980Ferranti-Packard LimitedDisplay or indicator element
US4811008 *Jun 1, 1987Mar 7, 1989Woolfolk Robert LColor pigment graphics information display
US4926167 *Apr 2, 1987May 15, 1990Bright-Tech (Developments) LimitedInformation display apparatus
US5528258 *Dec 10, 1993Jun 18, 1996Young S. ChungChangeable signboard
US5562459 *Nov 24, 1995Oct 8, 1996Durlach; David M.Dynamic three dimenional amusement and display device
US6819228Jan 28, 2003Nov 16, 2004Dwain GipsonScanning braille presentation
DE2513550A1 *Mar 26, 1975Oct 23, 1975Ferranti LtdVorrichtung zur darstellung von zeichen, insbesondere buchstaben
DE2736866A1 *Aug 16, 1977Mar 1, 1979Prisma Neon AbAdvertising display using equally spaced prisms - has support shafts along longitudinal axes interconnected via drive wheels and toothed belt
WO1987005140A1 *Feb 11, 1987Aug 27, 1987Euroband AbAn indicating arrangement
WO1992012507A1 *Dec 16, 1991Jul 23, 1992Andrew BartonDisplay assemblies
WO1995002872A1 *Jul 13, 1993Jan 26, 1995Chung, Young, S.Changeable signboard
WO2002056283A2 *Jan 9, 2002Jul 18, 2002Univ Bretagne SudDisplay screen, in particular of the micro-electromechanical type
WO2002056283A3 *Jan 9, 2002Jan 3, 2003Universite De Bretagne SudDisplay screen, in particular of the micro-electromechanical type
WO2008050164A1 *Oct 25, 2007May 2, 2008Horvath ImreAdvertising board
U.S. Classification345/110
International ClassificationG09G3/00, G09F9/37
Cooperative ClassificationG09G3/004, G09F9/375
European ClassificationG09G3/00C, G09F9/37M