Printer Friendly

Edison: Inventing the Century.

He invented the phonograph, light bulb, motion picture camera, and registered 1,093 patents. He was to the telegraph technology of his day what Bill Gates is to computers today. He married twice and neglected his six children. He was the Wizard of Menlo Park and his life story is compellingly told by Neil Baldwin in this illustrated, well-researched (almost one hundred pages of notes and bibliography) biography.

Thomas Edison is credited with saying that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. He never lacked for either. When the idea struck he worked 18 hour days for months at a time. His first wife (she was a sixteen year-old bride) was often left a lonely lady. His second wife (Edison was widowed at age thirty-seven) knew he wasn't going to be home very much.

Edison's remarkable career was accomplished with only three months of formal schooling. He recalls that one day, as a young child, he heard the teacher tell a visiting school inspector that the boy was "addled" and it would not be worthwhile for him to remain in school. His mother obliged by teaching Tom at home. She did pretty well, for besides his inventing prowess Edison was a voracious life-long reader.

His first invention was an electrical vote counter which he tried to sell to Congress. He learned a valuable lesson when they rejected it, saying they had no need to vote quickly. His second major effort, a stock market ticker tape machine, was created after determining there was a real need for it. But he was not successful in everything. For example, he lost most of his money in a failed scheme to separate iron ore magnetically (this enterprise earned the sobriquet "Edison's Folly"). However, right after that, at age 53, he began a very successful cement company that gained him money to finance other projects.

Edison was hard to discourage. After more than 10,000 unsuccessful experiments to perfect a storage battery he said, "I haven't failed, after all I've found 10,000 ways that don't work." This can-do spirit, his stamina, and his genius at recruiting dedicated, smart assistants ensured lots of successes. If you want to learn more about them, and the failures too, but you aren't ready to "perspire" and read this 500 page biography, I suggest buying or renting the A&E Biography video on Edison. It's very well done and could inspire you to read the book.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Institute of General Semantics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Levinson, Martin H.
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1997
Words:409
Previous Article:The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
Next Article:Cry of the cat: plus critical thinking and precise communication.
Topics:


Related Articles
Science, Industry and the Social Order in Post-Revolutionary France.
Computer: A History of the Information Machine.
The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Christmas That Shows How It Was Transformed from an Unruly Carnival Season into the...
A Kosher Hollywood For All.
The Languages of Edison's Light. (Reviews).
Fleet Fire: Thomas Edison and the Pioneers of the Electric Revolution.
Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya.
Copies in Seconds: How a Lone Inventor and an Unknown Company Created the Biggest Communication Breakthrough Since Gutenberg--Chester Carlson and the...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters