One of my father’s stories is of an uncle who patented an automatic transmission (or something similar) for automobiles, then bankrupted a series of wealthy backers in battles with Detroit car makers. We have an old newspaper article with photos, but up until now were not able to find the patent.
Fortunately my great-uncle had an uncommon name. Searching Google Patents for “Elmont Preston” came up with: HYDRAULIC CLUTCH - Google Patents
Pretty cool … :)