Maurice Poirier, Burbank Inventor
and Ten Ideas Per Minute Man
by Wes Clark
One of the fun things about an interest in Burbank history is that the city has apparently attracted more than its share of interesting people, and there seems to be a story at every bend.
Let me introduce you to Maurice Poirier, a French or French-Canadian naturalized American who settled in town as a watchmaker and promptly began inventing things, dreaming great technological innovations and patenting useful devices.
Mike and I first came across mention of him when Mike did an e-Bay search on the term "burbank." What came up was an auction of a photo of Poirier standing with his model for a radio frequency power transmitter, that is, power transmitted via the air rather than by cables and power lines. The idea had been considered briefly over the years; the main problem with it being the fact that power transmitted over the air has a rather steep fall-off with distance (it just isn't efficient), and that broadcasting serious megawatts of radio frequencies though the air disrupts other devices which use radio frequency, such as, well, radios.
Was Poirier just another J.W. Fawkes, an inventor of questionable schemes and follies? Apparently not. The man did some serious pioneering work with rocketry, aviation chronology and held parents for wheel suspension schemes. (Did he work for Moreland truck, we wonder...) An early account seems to credit him for what we now know as automotive independent suspension.
While primarily active in the 1930's, Poirier was granted a patent as late as 1956. A quick search of him on genealogical websites reveals that his Burbank address was 324 East Tujunga Avenue through the 1930's. Sources list his occupation as a watchmaker, then as an inventor. In the early 1940's he moved to an address on North Orchard Drive and is listed as an aircraft worker. (At Lockheed, perhaps?) He is also cited as being a Glendale resident, but the majority of the articles list him as a Burbanker.
Poirier, a graduate of L'Academie Francaise, came to the United States at the close of World War I. The photographs reveal a dapper and handsome young man. Apparently he was considered brilliant, as one source reveals that he was known as the "ten ideas per minute man!"
Poirier may have died in 1990 in Los Angeles. As Mike and I get more information about this pioneering inventor and interesting fellow we will update this article for Burbankia.
From the Los Angeles Times
From the February 9, 1931, Time magazine article entitled "Planet Plans":
Four men who hope some day to flit from planet to planet in rocket planes were last week making preparations to leave the earth. Inventor Maurice Poirer of Burbank, Calif., fired a miniature moon-plane from the top of a mountain, watched it crash to the bottom of San Francisquito Canyon. In Italy a 132-lb. rocket designed by another U. S. rocketeer, Dr. Darwin O. Lyon, exploded, seriously injured four mechanics. In Vienna, the Meteorological Institute of Urania heard Professor Hermann Oberth tell how he hoped to reach Mars or Jupiter within 15 years...
Update from France, 10/15/13! Jean-Jacques Serra adds the following: