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One of the best mock feuds of the 1950s was the battle over steam between Ken Bulmer and Vincent Clarke, on the one hand, and Walt Willis and Lee Hoffman on the other. Bulmer cleverly established his claim to be the inventor (a.k.a. the father) of steam during a visit Willis paid to the Epicentre. Noting that the lid to his tea kettle appeared to be lifted by the strange forces that resided in the vapors produced by the boiling waters, Bulmer remarked on the possibility of someday harnessing this energy to provide transportation and other benefits to all mankind.

Not long thereafter, LeeH formed Hoffmanothing, Inc., to supply the needs of the Ft. Mudge Steam Calliope Company. Vincent Clarke, acting as Bulmer's mouthpiece barrister, sent notice to Ms. Hoffman that this was a clear infringement of Mssr. Bulmer's patent or copyright or whatever it was. Rather than pay the fees suggested by Clarke, however, Ms. Hoffman retained the services of Walter Alexandrew Willis, whose legal expertise may be gauged by the fact that his firm had apparently never heard of the concept of "conflict of interests" – he was one of her columnists, so he wound up representing her.

As is usually the case when matters turn litigious, no real results were obtained by either side, and although Hoffman and Bulmer managed (without the aid of legal counsel) to reach enough agreement to form an international group to supply white steam for general use, a.k.a. "Fair Steam," clearly the edge was off. The legal exchanges were really only so much hot air – but that, of course, is a vital element in the production of steam, so it wasn't entirely nonproductive. However, neither firm managed to capture the markets they should have, as witness the fact that NASA went on to utilize those dreadfully expensive liquid-fuel rockets and, in all the dreadfully modern world, there's not a single steam-powered computer to be had.

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
(Watt:Bulmer) During a visit by Walt Willis to the Epicentre, Ken Bulmer noticed the lid of a teakettle being lifted by a strange force that seemed to reside in the vapor of the boiling water, and speculated on the possibility of harnessing this energy for transportation and other socially useful ends. Owing to international patent difficulties a competitive organization, Hoffmanothing Inc, was formed independently in the United States to supply the needs of the Fort Mudge Steam Calliope Company [Fort Mudge is part of the Pogo mythos; Hoffmanothing stocks were later taken over by Ashworth's Amorphous Abstracts, Ltd, of England after a prolonged lawsuit between the former and the Bulmer Aqueous Vapor Company. (They proved to consist largely of colored steam.) After a conference at Cleveland Hoffwoman and Bulmer organized an international group, Fair Steam, to supply the white kind for general use.

Bulmer published an OMPAzine called Steam from 1954–59, subtitled “The Official Calliope of the Bulmer Aqueous Vapour Company.”

See also: Steampunk.

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