Charles H. Duell
(13 Apr 1850 - 29 Jan 1920)
who was Commissioner of U.S. Patent Office.
Science Quotes by Charles H. Duell (1 quote)
Everything that can be invented, has been invented. [A myth, attributed - almost certainly falsely - to Duell.]
— Charles H. Duell
A classic example of a zombie-type quote. It should be long dead, but keeps living on as a myth, impossible to extirpate. For example, it is glibly recited and attributed (as always, without a valid primary source), to a Commissioner ("Director") of U.S. Patent Office, urging President McKinley to abolish his office, in Chris Morgan and David Langford, Facts and Fallacies (1981). (Duell held the office 1898-1901.) It has a long history of being debunked, for example, see Eber Jeffery, Journal of the Patent Office Society (July 1940), and Samuel Sass, 'A Patently False Patent Myth', Skeptical Inquirer (Spring 1989), 13, 310-313.