Smart Phone Inventor Rocky Martino, 84, Continues to Break New Ground The smart phone, modern computer processing and 21 non-fiction books and three novels are among astrophysicist Dr. Rocco Leonard Martino’s many achievements. If his recent output is an indication, he won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
In the early 1990s when mobile phones looked more like portable breadboxes than communications devices, Dr. Rocco Leonard Martino, a trained rocket scientist who worked on heat shields using the earliest computers, was thinking of a better alternative. He reasoned that with the right chip set and innovative software, telephony and computer science could be united to produce what we call the “Smart Phone” today. He called it the CyberFone. He wrote articles and gave speeches and demonstrations describing life using the CyberFone. He was at ten years ahead of his time. There were no effectively “intelligent” phones at the time because the size and cost of processing hardware limited data transmission and handset displays.
Dr. Martino is an astrophysicist and is frequently referred to as a rocket scientist and computer pioneer who worked in the forefront of space flight. He work began in 1951 and continued until starting company, XRT, in 1972. His early positions included working with Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the inventor of Radar, and Dr. John Mauchly, the co-inventor of ENIAC. Today he is responsible for numerous innovations and patented inventions, many in the data processing and computer transaction fields. Around 1990, his thoughts turned to a challenge that he felt strongly enough about to invest in personally. If phones could be integrated with displays, with the proper hardware and software, users could meet their telephone and computer data access needs with a single device, the CyberFone.
Dr. Martino, 84, is President of CyberFone Technologies, Inc., which sold its patents in 2011 to CyberFone Systems, a firm acquired in 2013 by Marathon Patent Group (OTCBB: MARA), a leading intellectual property services and licensing company. Dr. Martino attributes his broad background in aerospace and interests in data processing as the foundation of his problem-solving prowess. The foundational patent portfolio acquired by Marathon from CyberFone includes claims that give the holder the right to practice specific transactional data processing, telecommunications, network and database inventions, including those covering many financial transactions. The portfolio, which currently has an established base 40 licensees, consists of ten United States patents and 27 foreign ones, and one patent pending. The foreign patents include coverage in nine countries, including those in North America, South America, Europe, Pacific Rim and Asia.
Patents that cover digital communications and data transaction processing are integral to many applications in the wireless, telecommunications, financial and other industries. The CyberFone portfolio has been cited in patents owned by IBM, Cisco, Hitachi, Siemens, NEC and in 437 other patents issued or pending in the United States.
The portfolio includes patents whose claims cover processes for a telecommunications system that can be used in a menu-like format, allowing navigation and data input creating “data transactions,” which are then transmitted to a database. Also covered are methods that detail the ability to input data in an “agnostic” form-driven operating system in which data can be processed and returned in real time. Marathon believes the rights to CyberFone’s assets are especially valuable in today’s rapidly growing mobile Internet environment and will provide licensees significant value. The priority dates of the patents are as early as 1995.
The smart phone concept was something that Dr. Martino started working on as early as 1990, shortly after the cellphones, large and clumsy by today’s standards, began being mass-produced. He filed his first patent in 1994, and the patent was issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1995 as number 5,805, 676, “Telephone- transaction entry device and system for entering transaction data into databases.” The Java One 1999 trade show named the CyberFone among the Best in Show devices.
An international authority on space flight, computer systems and digital financial transactions, Dr. Martino was trained in astrophysics at the University of Toronto with grants from the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and the Canadian Defence Research Board for investigations. His research focused on the re-entry of space vehicles from outer space. This work was instrumental in creating heat shields for spacecraft. Not only is the smart phone attributed to Dr. Martino, but he also is one of the chief architects of the computer age and computer security. He has served many of the world’s largest businesses, leading departments at Olin Mathieson, Booz Allen, Unisys, Mauchly Associates and has advised national governments and major corporations. With the company he formed in 1972, XRT, he created systems for international banking, trading, and debt systems for many of the largest companies in the world. By 1997, his XRT systems were moving some three trillion dollars every day in international commerce.
Dr. Martino, who is known as “Rocky,” is a dedicated “problem identifier,” the first step in problem-solving. In addition to the 42 patents currently attributed to him, Dr. Martino has written many seminal technical treatises. He is responsible for an impressive list of books, including 21 works of non-fiction covering Ground Effect of Radio Wave Propagation (1956) to Creating the Cyber Age (2014), three novels and a play.
Dr. Martino says that he has used his knowledge of the inner workings of government and business, together with his ability to identify and solve problems, “ along with a sense of humor,” to find the answers to many challenging questions as well as to help frame a story.
Dr. Martino’s own story is as compelling as any books he has written. He grew up in Toronto, Canada through the depression years of the 1930’s, building model airplanes with his brother and dreaming that one day man would fly to the moon. His father, a master chef, culinary judge, and author of two books on cooking, set the tone for creativity in the Martino household. “Father was one of only eleven members of the Epicurean Circle in London,” recalls Dr. Martino. “Solving problems and exploring new ideas was his idea of good dinner conversation.”
Space exploration was Dr. Martino’s siren call in his early years, and in 1951 he was engaged in graduate work on early heat shields necessary for the re-entry of space vehicles, using one of the first computers in the world for his work. Dr. Martino has been in the forefront of computer applications and process innovation almost from the inception of the modern computer. His contributions have created products and jobs, promoted economic growth, and enhanced the ability of technology to address important aspects of business, commerce, and government, as well as to improve the quality of life.
His accomplishments encompass many aspects of product and process innovation, especially in four major areas: From 1951 onwards he was associated with procedures, techniques, and processes for creating actual computer code by the computer, without having the programmer or system designer write it. Simple statements in the vernacular and with formulae are created by the system program generator. These statements, much simpler than computer code, are then processed through a computer program of various types: compilers, assemblers, interpreters, translators, and system generators. Dr. Martino pioneered the concepts of automatics system generation from the 1950’s.
His efforts in language formulation, compilers, translators and system generators long before such procedures became commonplace. Some of this work was in association with Dr. Grace Murray Hopper and the creation of COBOL. These techniques were employed in science, engineering and finance, directed to aerospace, navigation systems, and the application of computers to finance and insurance. Some of these efforts were in association with Sir Robert Watson Watt, the inventor of Radar.
A second achievement dates from 1959 forward and is associated with procedures, techniques, and processes for planning and scheduling any kind of project, most notably new product development and innovation. Dr. Martino pioneered the application of the Critical Path Method to many types of projects, and especially to linking project costs to the financial and departmental structure of organizations. Dr. Martino also developed variations of these network techniques for the creation of complex systems, some with probability parameters. These inventions helped address the production and financial requirements associated with minimal inventory of finished goods and raw materials – a system which later was extended to “just-in-time” manufacturing by the Japanese and others.
His initial efforts were in association with Dr. John Mauchly, co-inventor of ENIAC, Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the first electronic general-purpose computer. These techniques were successfully employed in projects associated with new products, processes, and structures.
Secure Systems for Multiple Users
The third major achievement of Dr. Martino’s career occurred from 1975 and is associated with procedures, techniques, and processes for creating secure systems for multiple users in networks both local and global. In particular, when applied to financial and medical systems, the need was for absolute security from penetration of any kind, for creating more than one copy of a transaction in real time, and for providing the capability for continuous operation in the event of any disaster, whether man-made or from nature. Dr. Martino’s efforts were in conceiving and designing procedures for secure systems and for multi-user networks before others. By the mid 1990’s, approximately three trillion dollars per day were processed through systems designed and created by Dr. Martino and his staff at XRT, a company that he sold in 1997 and which eventually became part of SunGard, a leader in data security and disaster recovery.
Most recently, Dr. Martino has been developing systems associated with convergent technology. In the early 90’s, it became apparent that the next great advance in technology was the convergence of computers, telephony, and communication power into a single instrument that could operate in the hand or on the desk, in wireless or fixed mode, in networks of any kind, and would meet the needs of the user in varying circumstances without major costs of reprogramming and maintenance. All this capability had to be simpler to use than existing PC’s, hand-held devices, telephony networks systems and at a lower cost.
The work of this latest achievement lead to the creation of CyberFone, an early smart phone, continues today. Dr. Martino’s efforts have been in conceptualization and reduction into patent-capable designs, processes and systems; followed by the creation and development of prototypes for proof of concept, and finally developing the capability for production and deployment. Dr. Martino was granted patents in the United States and in countries around the world. The most recent product of these breakthrough software and hardware concepts has been to provide these capabilities in cell phones, PDA’s, and other hand-held devices. This application to wireless systems has created new capability with far reaching consequences for social interaction, emergency messages, real-time entry of data as events occur and instantaneous access to mass data.
His accomplishments have impacted the people of the United States and elsewhere, improving their quality of life and connection with others. The benefits to the U.S. and to global commerce have been significant and will continue in the years ahead. “Dr. Martino is as much a renaissance man as any scientist the modern age has provided,” says Doug Croxall, CEO of Marathon Patent Group, which acquired CyberFone last year. “Not only are his achievements impressive technically, they have real-world application and have begun to generate significant returns. He is remarkably humble about his accomplishments for so brilliant an innovator.” To date the CyberFone patent portfolio has generated more than $18 million in licensing fees, and the licensing program has been activated for less than three years.
Service to Community
Dr. Martino is a deeply religious man, who has been knighted by the Vatican, and has served on the boards of numerous international organizations, including the Gregorian University Foundation, The Institute of Aerospace Studies of the University of Toronto. St. Joseph’s University, the World Affairs Council, and the Foreign Policy Research Institute, of which he is also a Senior Fellow.
He has served as a Professor of Mathematics and as a Professor of Systems Engineering at the University of Waterloo and New York University. He has also lectured at other universities and institutes in North America, Europe, and Asia. Along with his corporate and creative activities, Dr. Martino an avid sailor, and has ocean raced for years. He is a Past Commodore of the Yacht Club of Sea Isle City and of the Mid-Atlantic Yacht Racing Association. He and his wife, Barbara, a trained research Chemist, have established a charitable Foundation, and raised a fine family of four sons, thirteen grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Dr. Martino’s contributions to science and philanthropy have been recognized with the Grant of his own Coat of Arms by the Governor General of Canada; four Knighthoods; Honorary Degrees from Neumann University, Chestnut Hill College, and Gonzaga University; and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Chinese Monte Jade Society and the National Italian American Foundation. “If you were to ask me 75 years ago when I was growing up in Canada if I would be responsible for all of this output, the inventions, the businesses, the books and the charitable work, as well as the family, I would have said not me,” muses Dr. Martino. “I simply gravitated toward what interested me and where I thought I could do some good.”
When asked about the future, he laid it all out. “I am looking at new techniques for medical diagnoses, at Big Data applications, and immunology treatments for cancer. In addition, I fully intend to write at least one book per year as long as I can.” When asked for a word of advice for inventors, he said: “My advice to other inventors is ‘be persistent,’ and most importantly, stick to the old Latin motto – ‘illegitimi non carborundum’ – don’t let the bastards wear you down. “As Machiavelli so aptly put it some five hundred years ago, ‘Nothing is more perilous to success than a new system or idea: It will meet great resistance from those who are affected and only lukewarm support from those who will benefit.’ There are plenty of people with an opinion about what is innovative and not, but listening to them won’t do you much good. As a race we humans must innovate, not imitate; if we don’t we will stagnate and eventually die. Our instinct for survival is like a compass that points us toward the future.”
Some of Dr. Martino’s CyberFone Patents
US Patent No. 6,044,382
US Patent No. 5,805,676
US Patent No. 5,987,103
US Patent No. 8,019,060
US Patent No. 7,778,395
US Patent No. 7,334,024
US Patent No. 6,973,477
US Patent No. 6,574,314