Welcome to Inventors Emporium
Founded in 1990, Inventors Emporium exists to develop the inventions of Joel M. Sciamma and as an umbrella for other activities such as R&D in electronics, computing, light mechanical engineering and just plain curiosity.

You’ll find an evolving mix of ideas, software (for the Macintosh and Newton), information and images which I hope you will find interesting. This site has a complete absence of frames, animations, Flash, Java, blinking text, fancy fonts, noises or advertisements - I’ll try to keep it that way.


I have a number of inventions that have been granted a patent or that are in the works, a few of which are:
  • Inventor of the compliant nib mechanism for PDA styli currently licensed to Landware, Inc. This nib controls the applied pressure to achieve consistent and unbroken traces on the screen while also giving the feel of a pen on paper. Heartfelt thanks are due to all at Landware for their dedication in bringing this product to market.
    The nib mechanism is awaiting grant of patent (patent pending).

  • Inventor of a cable identification tag currently in production.

    Open Cable Tag
    This product allows rapid identification of already terminated cables with a one-piece tag having a generous writing area and tamperproof attachment. The tag will automatically adjust to a range of cable/pipe sizes.
    Subject of a granted patent.

    Our contract with Expert Verdict has concluded with great sales over the past year and we thank them for this valuable exposure.

    Other retail and distribution agreements are being discussed.

  • Inventor of a desk or wall-mounted hand tool storage system which does not use clips or magnets but retains tools securely with excellent accessibility and high density. Licenses are currently being sought.
    Subject of a granted patent.
There is a backlog of over 100 inventions for which the time is not yet right or for which additional funding is required. Perhaps their time will come one day.
  • R&D in software and hardware has been carried out for clients such as Apple UK and Continuum ID.
The Institute of Patentees and Inventors <http://www.invent.org.uk> was founded in 1919 and exists to support inventors at all stages of their projects with advice on intellectual property and how to bring products to market.

They are a tremendous fund of knowledge in all aspects of the process that a small inventor must overcome and can help to locate the necessary professionals.

I am a member of the Royal Institution <http://www.ri.ac.uk> which, under the directorship of Baroness Susan Greenfield, has been enjoying a substantial expansion of its programme and is a wonderful venue at which to learn about the latest developments in science and technology through their discourses and public lectures.

The UK Patent Office <http://www.patent.gov.uk/> is the home of UK intellectual property rights and the place to which all official communications should be made. They have a free information pack for inventors. Tel: +44 (0)645 500505


With the developments in the innovation side of my business I am scaling back my Macintosh and Newton application software development but I am still involved in a few significant software projects:


  • I am currently involved in a long term project named VantagePoint with the Windlesham Arboretum to map 22,000+ trees using VectorWorks CAD software <http://www.nemetschek.net/index.html> on the Mac. The map includes GPS surveys, tree data, terrain features and buildings. VantagePoint is a suite of commands that operate within VectorWorks to provide the functionality for importing and plotting, searching, labelling and sharing data in a large garden.

    The founder of the Windlesham Arboretum, Major William Spowers, was the driving force behind the surveys and the cartography and his insistence on completeness, accuracy and aesthetics has been inspiring and we miss him.

    GPS surveys have been conducted by John Smith of Mosaic Maps <mosaicmap@aol.com> using Trimble differential GPS systems. Accuracy when satellites are favourable can be around 50-70cm. As John would say, this is surveying by taking a stroll. It's now impossible to imagine a survey without this resource.

    We are delighted to be working closely with the Royal Horticultural Society <http://www.rhs.org.uk/> who have adopted VantagePoint for the mapping and visualisation of Wisley, Rosemoor, Harlow Carr and Hyde Hall. The RHS have made us step up a level and the collaboration has been very successful.

    VantagePoint has been used to map the beautiful Howick Hall arboretum in Northumberland <http://www.howickhallgardens.org/> and we are also developing a seed collection and accessions database in FileMaker Pro to manage the collection at every stage.

    We have been working with the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire <http://www.thenma.org.uk/> to plot their commemorative trees for which we have developed technology within the VantagePoint environment which has allowed us to survey, plot and identify 43,000 trees on the site so far. This gives the NMA the ability to search their map for commemorations and have the map scroll the found items into view, which will be of great assistance to vistors and volunteers alike.

    We have developed techniques for extracting data from DXF files where text annotations are adjacent to trees and other point objects. VantagePoint/Capture locates the text fields, reads their data and looks for a suitable object in the vicinity that matches a variety of criteria. The data is then attached to a symbol placed in the same location so that VantagePoint can export to objects and their data to a table for further processing. VantagePoint/Capture is only available as a service, so please let us know if you have documents from which data could be rescued.

    Version 2.5.2 of VantagePoint for VectorWorks 2009 is now shipping and we are working with gardens around the UK to build their maps and botanic inventories with this tool.

    Please contact us for more information about our products and services.

  • Joint winner with Continuum ID <http://www.continuumid.com/> of a UK Department of Industry ISCA award for creative use of information technology.
    ISCA Award LogoISCA

    Our F.CAD project developed technology that allowed HTML pages to be built on the fly displaying data from a PrimeBase database. Contact Roland Whitehead at Continuum for more information. <rowhitehead@continuumid.com>

  • One-time Macintosh and Newton developer - see my Newton packages by clicking on the links in the left-hand panel. This site is a member of the Newton Web Ring.

My programming environment of choice for the Mac was Prograph CPX, a fully visual, object-oriented, dataflow language that is surely how programming should be. The developers of Prograph, Pictorius, Inc. were not able to devote the necessary resources to continue their development efforts on the Mac but there is an open source effort underway to rewrite Prograph for Mac OS X at <http://www.ospgli.org/>.

The team at Andescotia Software have released Marten, a modern implementation of the Prograph language that looks very promising.

You can find out more about Prograph at:

  • I am also a fan of the HP41 series of hand-held computers (or is that calculators?) and some program listings are available on this site.

FileMaker database development


Inventors Emporium relational database suites have been commissioned by the UK Automobile Association, Campers & Nicholsons International, Beaumont and Sons and numerous other organisations. Some FileMaker solutions can be found on this site.



One of my first hobbies was electronics and I still dabble and like to keep my hand in with new technologies as they appear. All hobbies have their tools and I recently bought a hand-held oscilloscope in the form of the Velleman HPS10 for which I wrote a short guide to to help myself learn about it.

See the HPS10 page and download the guide as a PDF.

About the site

In designing this site, I have tried to conform to HTML 4 as far as possible to ensure the widest compatibility for now, so there are a bunch of deprecated tags like <FONT> and <CENTER> in here to offend the purists.

The site was originally built on a Macintosh PowerBook G3 / G4 with Adobe GoLive 4 to 8, which seems to have done a decent job and was a big help in managing the changes I kept making. It's a shame that this environment has disappeared and I have not found a really good alternative. Texts were originally prepared in MacWrite Pro 1.5 and graphics with good old SuperPaint 3.5, Photoshop and GraphicConverter <http://www.lemkesoft.com/>. I used ClarisImpact 2.0 for the outlining, which kept my head together, and the excellent NotePad Deluxe <http://www.ibrium.se/> to keep snippets of code, ideas, and notes.

Until recently I used iCab <http://www.icab.de/> as my main browser with Mac OS 9 because it's fast, compact, reliable and adheres to web standards. It's also a European product, which is nice. I have now switched to Mozilla 1.3.1 for Mac OS 9 which handles CSS layouts properly <http://wamcom.org/>. The browser from Redmond has good UI design and generally works well but its lethal instability and voracious appetite for memory was just too painful. Now it's only used (with trepidation) for testing.

Now I am also on Mac OS X, my favourite browser is OmniWeb.

I am indebted to Elizabeth Castro <http://www.cookwood.com/> for her book in the Visual Quickstart Guide series called HTML 4 for the World Wide Web, Fourth Edition (Peachpit Press <http://www.peachpit.com/>, ISBN 0-201-35493-4). It was the only book I could find from which I could absorb HTML painlessly and fast. GoLive seems to generate pretty clean code but her descriptons of basic concepts and tips on good design practice were very valuable. Updates to the site are now being handled by SubEthaEdit, which I also use for writing the VectorScript commands used in VantagePoint.

If you have any comments about the contents of this site, please contact me:
joel (at) inventors-emporium dot co dot uk

Having email addresses too accessible has become a problem so please replace the (at) with the @ symbol. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Innovation | Newton | Macintosh | FileMaker | HP41CX
This site and all its contents:
© Joel M. Sciamma, 2002-10.

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