Shortly after discharge from service in World War II, 21 year-old Martin Isler decided he wanted to go into business for himself. Failing to find work that took advantage of his blend of technical and artistic talents, he decided to open his own patent illustration firm. In those days, that meant getting a desk in the office of an old-timer and pounding the pavement to find his own clients.
Martin proved himself to be a fast learner, a talented illustrator, and a natural engineer. That last part, the engineer, was particularly important in those early days because so many of the filed patents involved mechanical or electrical inventions. He made pen and ink drawings to make clear the patentable aspects of window blinds, auto tires, baby cribs, toys, ski boots, and car engines.
Martin's natural ability with both art and engineering helped make loyal clients of many of the most prominent patent firms of his day. Over the years, there were numerous stories of Martin surprising the engineers at GE, Pitney-Bowes, and Chrysler with his engineering abilities.
After working several summers with his father, Jeff joined the firm full-time in the late seventies. Luckily, it was a rare moment in the history of patent drawing, graphics, and computers. When Jeff began, patent drawings were still done much as they had been for a hundred years -- using India ink, flexible points, and bow instruments on Bristol Board. Jeff learned the traditional skills: pencil illustration, perspective, view projections, inking, and shading.
Within a few years, however, a number of trends started to have a major impact on the small family-owned firm.
When Martin started his work, the pen and ink drawings that accompanied a patent were referred to as 'patent illustrations.' Over the years, the nature of bureaucracy imposed ever more rules on the process, so that what was 'patent illustration' became 'patent drafting.' While undoubtedly easier to administrate at the Patent and Trademark Office, the trend eliminated much of the creativity and problem-solving that had earlier been both the challenge and the fun.
Thankfully, that first trend would be outweighed by two others - a growing need by trial attorneys for litigation graphics, and the first practical applications of computer graphics. Both took hold in the late 1970s and, taken together, would provide a bright future for Infographics.
For obvious reasons, patent attorneys were the earliest adopters of courtroom graphics. Although little definitive industry information exists, we're confident that our 1971 start in trial work makes Infographics the oldest practicing litigation support firm in business today.
The first significant trial our firm supported with graphics was Norwood v EPOI in 1971 (on behalf of Nikon). We made illustrations explaining the workings of center-weighted photometric exposure meters that were recognized by the appellate court as “self-explanatory” and by our clients as “a cornerstone of the non-infringement decision.”
Those first courtroom graphics were done by hand, working large. Anything more than a small change meant that the illustration had to be done over. There was no practical reproduction technology.
Slowly, the tools progressed. Pantone color overlays, Zipatone textures, press-type lettering and, eventually, efficient photo reproductions. Through all of those changes, it remained essentially hand-work until the early 1980s. That's when computer graphics started to offer a practical contribution to the process. Infographics was lucky enough to be involved in those early days, making use of the new tools of computer graphics as they were being developed.
After many generations of software and hardware development, spread over many often challenging years, computers eventually became what they are today, replacing all of the hand tools of our early days. Today, even the line-work drawings done for patent drafting are done on computers.
Throughout Jeff's early years in the family business, older brother, Ed was building a successful early career in architecture. He worked on everything from office buildings to airline terminals. After moving from Atlanta to NYC, Ed was project lead on the new Delta terminal at La Guardia Airport.
Having put in his time with a number of large architectural firms, Ed too decided he'd prefer to run his own business. After a several years of residential architecture, Ed took his entrepreneurial spirit, his rigorous training, and his blend of creativity and technical skills to join the family business. With all three Islers together, the company was renamed Infographics and began its real focus on litigation support.
As Infographics has grown, we've continued adopting and developing new technology to serve our clients' needs. Along with powerful illustrations, Infographics now provides 3D animation and interactives, and more; delivered in PowerPoint, PDF, on websites and as iPad apps.
Just as we've developed our tools, we've also continued to develop the thinking behind our work. Today's Infographics has rigorously developed its focus on visual storytelling, based in the latest understandings of the decision-making process. Today, those early challenges of illustration have been replaced by the challenge of creating sophisticated presentations designed to be understood, remembered and, ultimately, to drive decisions.