- - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On this day in 1856, Gail Borden received a patent for “the concentration of milk,” now known as “condensed milk.”

Borden, with less than a year of formal school, had witnessed the deaths of some children due to drinking bad milk. He devised an apparatus to remove the water from milk (hence, the condensing) so that milk could be sealed in cans for long-distance travel without spoiling. 

This was only one of numerous inventions and lines of work that Borden got himself into during his energetic life in 19th century America.

A key component of the Industrial Revolution and of the economic growth of the United States was the legal protection afforded to inventors and investor capitalists by the U.S. patent laws. And the intellectual roots of patent laws can be traced all the way back to the eighth of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not steal.” 

With the ability to protect the intellectual fruit of one’s labors from being commercially stolen by competitors, men like Gail Borden used his ingenuity and his investor’s capital to make like a little better — one can of condensed milk at a time.

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