INSIDE CI: Idea Evolution

The monthly roundup from Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.

Before Warren Avis founded Avis Airlines Rent-A-Car Systems in 1946, no one had thought to make airports the focal point of a car rental business. Car rentals weren't a new idea at the time. Indeed, rentals had been available nearly since the invention of the car. Making rental cars available at airports wasn't entirely novel, either. Hertz had begun offering rentals at Midway Airport in Chicago in the '30s.

However, as a military pilot, Warren was tired of having to wait for a taxi once he'd landed at airports around the country. Thinking that other travelers were probably similarly frustrated, he borrowed $75,000 and used $10,000 of his own money to start his business. The first location featured three cars and was in Detroit, where Warren was able to offer the latest cars from his partial ownership of a Ford dealership.

Less than a decade later, his hunch was proven to be right on. Rapid growth enabled the company to expand beyond airports and offer services within major cities, and Avis grew throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe. Warren sold the business in 1954 for $8 million (not bad these days, but definitely quite a windfall back then). The idea, to put it lightly, had taken off.

Sapphire's role in the manufacture of transparent armor systems is a similar story. Though it's often known simply as a gemstone, sapphire has long been used in industrial applications ranging from semiconductors to orthodontics. Our cover story in this issue, "Crystal Clear,” details how researchers have capitalized on this established material's properties in order to improve the performance and reliability of the latest transparent armor systems.

Once your great idea has been realized, what can you do to protect it? Patent laws can seem labyrinthine even to those with previous experience in the process. Read "Protect Your Inventions" and discover the basics of applying for patent protection.

The Internet is another existing tool that constantly evolves with numerous possibilities and benefits, and CI continues to offer a variety of useful online resources and services. From our numerous, fully searchable directories and buyers' guides to reference information and the well-established Bulletin Board-not to mention the continually updated Industry News and archived content from CI's print issues-we strive to provide you with the tools you need to succeed.

Toward that end, we recently added a Submit Editorial Online link to our homepage at so you can quickly and easily send us your news releases, and even Case Study and Investing in Ceramics stories. We've also added a form on the Classified Ads page that enables you to submit your classified ads online.

Philosopher John Locke said, "The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have." Warren Avis had a great idea back in 1946. He decided to act on it, using the tools that were at his disposal to take a risk. It certainly paid off.

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