THOMAS EDISON


Note To Readers: You deserve my best. In all honesty, it's been a hectic, tiring past few weeks and today was no exception. Rather than spend the next 2 hours frantically cobbling together my latest discoveries in the world of photography, only to post at 11:59, I want to take my time to present such things properly. (It's worth the wait. I almost guarantee you've never seen what I've stumbled upon... 1 super-advanced, multi-lateral government project and a few private-sector ambitions... that's all I'll say for now). 'Til next time, enjoy this no-less enlightening journey into the man that lit up the world: none other than Thomas Edison. The class was I think reffered to as World History; in any case, this particular history class focused on things such as the development of nations (Asia, India, Brittain, the US). It gave me a better understanding of how the world became what it is today, thanks in no small part to revolutions -- political and agriculture, yes, but most notably INDUSTRIAL.

Enjoy.

But not before indulging in an electrifying performance of Black Sabbath's 'IRON MAN' performed by the "mad scientist music group" known as ARC ATTACK.


THOMAS EDISON
Thomas Alva Edison, arguably America’s greatest inventor, created much of the groundwork for today’s technological society by the innovations that he created in his day. Edison’s breakthroughs include the areas of mass communication, music and film, business, manufacturing and distribution, energy, an early form of X-Rays known as Fluoroscopy, and the stock ticker. He holds 1,093 patents in his name in the United States – in addition to “1,293 patents” (uspto.gov) as of 1910, held in Germany, France, Great Britain and 26 other countries for a total of 2,586 patents. To better understand this man, Thomas Edison’s life may be divided into three sections: the rise of The Wizard of Menlo Park, The War of Currents, and Edison’s contributions to the motion picture industry.
Thomas Alva Edison was born in February 11, 1847 in the wheat-producing town of Milan, Ohio. He is said to have only received 3 months worth of formal schooling. Being an extremely inquisitive child, Edison proved to be too much for his overworked schoolteacher to handle, causing his frustrated schoolteacher to refer to Edison as being “addled” – or having a scrambled brain. This ended Edison’s formal elementary schooling, and from that point on Edison was homeschooled by his mother. He attributes much of his success to the support and belief of his mother, and would likely not have been as successful without her faith in him. Much of Thomas Edison’s mechanical engineering success was due to his study of Richard Green Parker’s School of Natural Philosophy and was further aided by a taking a course at The Cooper Union later in life. However it was when Edison’s family moved to Port Huron, Ohio that Edison discovered his intuitive entrepreneurial skills by selling vegetables and newspapers. His rise to fame and fortune would all start when he received training telegrapher as a thank-you for saving the life of a boy.
J.U. Mackenzie, father of the 3 year old boy whom Edison saved from an oncoming train, began to train Edison as a telegrapher. Edison continued in this occupation until about the mid sixties. Several of his patents and inventions would be related to telegraphy, as he was most proficient in this. With knowledge of skill of telegraphy came knowledge and skill with electricity, and electricity was the basis of many of Edison’s inventions. The electronic stock ticker and the quadruplex telegraph gave Edison credibility and working capital, both of which were important to Edison’s successful future. His quadruplex telegraph allowed for four signals to be transmitted through one wire at the same time (a concept known as polar modulation) and was a particularly valuable commodity. The commercial success of his quadruplex telegraph gave Edison enough capital to build his Menlo Park industrial center. Eventually his technological experiments led to Edison’s first patent, “the electronic vote recorder –U.S. Patent 0090646” (patimg1.uspto.gov) in 1869. However, it was the invention of the seemingly magical phonograph that would earn him the nickname The Wizard of Menlo Park in 1877. Working with a team of many employees to aid in research and development, Edison’s name was attached to many new and exciting innovative technologies and processes. The most famous of the Menlo Park achievements was the creation of the world’s most effiecient and longest-lasting incandescent light bulb. While Edison did not actually invent the light bulb, he did in fact improve upon it to such an optimal state that people merely attributed him as its creator when in fact he was actually not. Nevertheless, the light bulb was a significant achievement that forever impacted the world. Edison’s true skill as both an inventor and a businessman was shown through his creation and management of effective power distribution centers. The infrastructure created by Edison laid the groundwork for even more explosive urban development (just look at New York City). However, his electricity distribution centers were based on Direct Current (DC), which had limited capability in terms of its effectiveness at certain distances. Thus, the only beneficiaries of the system would need to be located in a relatively close proximity to Edison’s power distribution centers. But not everyone shared Edison’s conviction that Direct Current was best for mankind. Nikola Tesla, backed by George Westinghouse, was convinced that Alternating Current (AC) would optimize electrical access to more people in more places (and they were correct). Edison essentially declared war on Alternating Current, and thus began The Current Wars.
The War on Current – taking place in the late 1880s – was a clash between Edison and Tesla, business giants and inventors; different movers and shakers with similar goals yet each desiring maximum rewards. Nikola Tesla, the prolific Austrian-American inventor, once worked with Edison as an employee, helping with research and development on several important projects. Tesla was similarly an electrical genius (he invented the Tesla Coil, and even laid the ground work for a contraption known as a Death Ray – a project that hadn’t come to fruition until tweaked by Bob Howard and taken over by the U.S. government-funded Applied Energy company in recent years); however he and Edison didn’t see eye to eye. Edison was jealous of Tesla’s skill, genius, and snappy style of dress (for an engineering environment); Tesla was annoyed by Edison’s apparent disregard of practicality in decision-making. After Edison’s death, in fact, the New York Times asked Tesla to comment on his relationship with Edison, and said Tesla:
“He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene. [...] His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90% of the labour. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical American sense” (Van Cleave).
It was also said of Edison’s attitude toward Tesla:
"Tesla came over from Graz and went to work for Thomas Edison. Edison couldn't stand Tesla for several reasons. One was that Tesla showed up for work every day in formal dress - morning coat, spats, top hat and gloves - and this just wasn't the American Way at the time. Edison also hated Tesla because Tesla invented so many things while wearing these clothes" (Anderson). Tesla and Edison parted ways immediately after Tesla tried (to no avail) to collect $50,000 that Edison had promised him. Edison laughed at Tesla, saying “When you become a full-fledged American you will appreciate an American joke” (pbs.org). Tesla took his talents to George Westinghouse, who would also financially back Tesla’s AC current system. During the War of Currents, Edison employed a smear campaign against Alternating Current in an effort to persuade the public of the supposed dangers of AC over DC. This included the famous electrocution of the unruly circus elephant, Topsy. The pachyderm belonged to the Luna Park Zoo on Coney Island. Park officials had decided to put her down after she had “squash[ed] three handlers in three years (including one idiot who tried feeding her a lighted cigarette)…
…In order to make sure that Topsy emerged from this spectacle more than just singed and angry, she was fed cyanide-laced carrots moments before a 6,600-volt AC charge slammed through her body. Officials needn't have worried. Topsy was killed instantly and Edison, in his mind anyway, had proved his point. A crowd put at 1,500 witnessed Topsy's execution, which was filmed by Edison and released later that year as Electrocuting an Elephant. In the end, though, all Edison had to show for his efforts was a string of dead animals, including the unfortunate Topsy, and a current that quickly fell out of favor as AC demonstrated its superiority in less lethal ways to become the standard” (Wired.com).
In the end, a contract awarded to Westinghouse for a hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls secured the demise of DC current. Niagara Falls currently supplies power to many millions of customers in the Northeastern United states and part of Canada. Edison did have something to show for his war efforts, however: his smear tactic led him to create the electric chair (using AC). Edison did eventually soften up in his waning years, even admitting “shortly before he died… that his biggest mistake had been in trying to develop direct current, rather than the superior alternating current system that Tesla had put within his grasp” (Cheney). Despite missing the opportunity for AC, Edison’s aggression in setting up electric power distribution systems was an important step forward into the future. Although AC is used today, Edison played a role in the organized distribution of electricity – a role that has not been forgotten. Another contribution to society was the creation of the motion picture. From that, Edison indirectly influences the world today, having given it its finest actors, directors, laughs, cries, and thrills – and one Walt Disney.
Edison gave the world the kinetoscope in 1891. Often located in penny arcades, kinetoscopes were standalone devices with a peephole for viewers to watch short films. The early form of theater-screened movies as we know it today came about in 1896, when Edison began manufacturing and marketing Thomas Armat’s Vitascope. Later, audio tracks were mechanically synchronozied to film – though Edison himself was disappointed with the appropriately- named Talkies, as he complained that the music and voice detracted from the need for actors to actually act well. Nevertheless, the birth of the movie industry was born, and its influence today can all be traced back to Edison. In addition giving the world the vitascope, Thomas Edison gave the motion picture industry an even greater asset: inspiration. Fifteen years after the debut of the vitascope, a young man by the name of Walter Elias Disney moved to Kansas City and befriended schoolmate and theatre lover Walter Pfeiffer, who first introduced Walt to motion pictures. Almost three hundred movies and countless TV shows later, the world has been forever changed.
One of the last business endeavors that Thomas Edison was involved in before his death in 1931 was an electric train system in New Jersey. In October 1931, Thomas Alva Edison passed away as a result of diabetes. Though the man is gone, his legacy lives on. Thanks to the rise of the Wizard of Menlo Park, the infrastructure and standards created during the War of Currents, and the beginning of the motion picture industry, many of the commodities in the world today are made possible. In a direct correlation: Reliable electric heating and cooling; digital computing; the Nasdaq Tower’s giant displays – all possible thanks to Edison. Android phones, iPads, and Pandora Internet Radio – none would be possible without Edison. Automatic External Defibrillators; MRI machines; brake lights, headlights, and traffic lights all use long-lasting lightbulbs built upon Edison’s design. And of course while Thomas Edison did not create Netflix or the iPhone, neither would exist without his having laid the groundwork for those and many other modern day conveniences that so often get taken for granted. The world truly is a brighter place thanks to Thomas Edison, both literally and metaphorically.
I chose Thomas Edison because I wanted to know more about the life of one of history’s greatest innovators since Thomas Savery, Thomas Newcomen, and James Watt’s contributions to the steam engine. As a hopeful soon-to-be CTN (Cryptologic Technician, Networks), technological innovation intrigues me. Not only are new technologies cool and exctitng, but they are practical and can even change the course of a nation. Without Edison’s achievements, the United States certainly would not have grown as prosperous as it did economically. In turn, the country would not have had quite as much influence as a world power. This principle has proven itself time and time again in our classroom studies of world powers and their development, with economic, social, and political development all linked to technological development. Eventually, it is my hope to do the same as Edison and the inventors of the steam engine, and change the course of the world for the better, while ensuring my country’s position as THE world power, the example-setter, the standard-bearer. A tall order?: perhaps… but doable. And for that I say “Thank you, Thomas Edison.”
Works Cited


Cheney, Margaret, and Robert Uth. Tesla: Master of Lightning. Barnes & Noble, 2001. Print.
Long, Tony. "Jan. 4, 1903: Edison Fries an Elephant to Prove His Point." Wired.com. Web. 18 Aug. 2011. .
"PBS: Tesla - Master of Lightning: Coming to America." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 15 Aug. 2011. .
"A Small Introduction to Nikola Tesla." Flying Moose of Nargothrond. Web. 15 Aug. 2011. .
United States Patent and Trademark Office. United States Patent and Trademark Office. Web. 15 Aug. 2011. .
VanCleave, Janice. "Information About Tomas Edison | Ideas for Science Fair Projects." Ideas for Science Fair Projects | Janice VanCleave Shares Her Creative Ideas for Playing and Finding Out About Science. Web. 18 Aug. 2011. .



ArcAttack employs a unique DJ set up of their own creation to generate an "electrifying" audio visual performance. The HVDJ pumps music through a PA system while 2 specially designed DRSSTC's (Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coils) act as separate synchronized instruments. These high tech machines produce an electrical arc similar to a continuous lightning bolt and put out a crisply distorted square wave sound reminiscent of the early days of sunthesizers. YOUTUBE DESCRIPTION BY USER WSHSBRO.