The Corporate Law Group

Happy Birthday Tom

24Thomas Edison was born this day in 1847, 167 years ago. Admittedly Edison was a pretty good self promoter but that doesn’t diminish the things that he worked on, even if he did have collaborators. History has credited Edison with inventing or significantly advancing the light bulb, the phonograph, the stock ticker, the telegraph, and the motion picture camera. His nickname was The Wizard of Menlo Park (NY, not CA), and he is credited with developing the first industrial research laboratory. He patented 1,093 inventions and is said to have regularly put in 20 hour days (in an era before hot pockets!). One of his famous quotes is written it the picture above. Another is, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” The first incandescent light bulb burned a filament of carbonized sewing thread for 13 ½ hours. Now, 135 years later, the EPA is killing his invention. The first commercial power station went up in 1882 and the electric age we now enjoy had begun. As today the tremendous amounts of capital needed to get started meant that when several of his companies were brought together as Edison General Electric he never controlled it. During WWI Edison employed 10,000 people at his laboratories. Then, as now, the path to jobs for all meant turning entrepreneurs free, not government gimmicks. Late in life Edison sold all of his stock in General Electric to fund research into mining technologies but despite ten years of effort was never successful. But the phonograph and movies meant he was still financially secure. Edison also worked on storage batteries for electric cars (which were a full 3rd of all cars produced in 1900) and made good money at that. One of Edison’s last inventions was a new kind of rubber invented for his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. When he died in 1931 electric lights were dimmed for one minute. Happy birthday Tom!

Leave a Reply