Posts belonging to Category Did You Know?



Thomas Edison Makes Lemonade from Lemons

It’s just a heavy piece of concrete, a part of the old Yankee Stadium actually, but visitors to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park marvel at its form and weight, especially at the thick aggregate mix of stones and gravel within.

Edison Cement in a chunk of Yankee Stadium.

Edison Cement in a chunk of Yankee Stadium.

Yankee Stadium, around 1923.

Yankee Stadium, around 1923.

This is what Edison’s Portland cement makes when properly mixed, a durable concrete that he used to build his factory buildings, garage and potting shed, as well as his concrete homes– and of course Yankee Stadium. About 68,000 barrels of Edison cement went into the construction of Yankee Stadium in 1923.

An Edison concrete house today.

An Edison concrete house today.

All this fine cement … resulted from a failed economic attempt to recoup the iron ore within the rock in mountainous western New Jersey, out by Sparta and Ogdensburg. All he was able to literally glean from this $1 million plus investment (which almost bankrupted him) was a “bag of lemons”. But being Edison, and not wont to give up easily, he was determined to make lemonade from it all.

Realizing the know-how (technology) of rock crushing was a valuable and potentially profitable new business, he switched gears from iron ore to Portland cement and did what he always did when he entered a new industry … he disrupted it. When he was done, the traditional 50-foot kilns used to roast the pre-cement constituents were increased to 200 feet-effectively quadrupling the productivity of a single kiln.

One of Edison’s great rules was never let failure get you down, always learn from it. Can you taste the sweet lemonade he made from rock crushing technology? Look at all the places in our world where cement is used! What an incredible material. All you entrepreneurs, inventors, and world-changers … banish discouragement, and go for it! Make Edison proud.

Thomas Edison said, “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Team Edison Shows Problem Solving in Action!

Thomas Edison had a lab team (i.e. “R+D”), people who could latch onto a problem, no matter how complex or difficult, and solve it. This behavior gave birth to Edison’s highly prized descriptor, “stick-to-it-ness”.

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Kids, students, and budding young inventors can get a taste of what it is like to be Team Edison. Tune on to the new action comedy series–Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab–created by Genius Brands International.

Techno-savvy Team Edison discovers a hidden secret lab, built and stocked by none other than Thomas Edison at his former lab site in West Orange, NJ. See what these young talented minds [and a likable robot, Von Bolt] do with the resources of this lab. Old Tom Edison is there too, in holographic form, to help out and give advice.

There’s Angie, Nicky, Kent, Chang and Von Bolt the robot, to teach STEM principles to young viewers. Entertainment and education in every video … be there with the young ones! See the kids in action–now playing on NETFLIX, THE KID GENIUS channel on XFINITY, and on select PUBLIC TELEVISION stations [check their website for details]. Enjoy!

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Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

It’s not unusual in design, just a classic oak roll-top desk, now with a thick plastic cover to protect its surface artifacts from dust and human touch. Come to think about it, this poignant reminder of the past may be one of the most photographed desks in the world.

Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

From this once raw hunk of tree, Thomas Edison made his big decisions, held meetings at, and managed the affairs of the thirty companies that made up Thomas A. Edison Industries. Just adjacent to it [on the left side of the desk] rests his invented voice recording instrument, soon to transform into the standard dictating machines so common in the world of business.

Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

It’s placement in his large library office is itself noteworthy. Edison knew that invention and innovation always starts with information, research, and study-of what already has been accomplished— and what could possibly be. For him, being in a constant state of learning and self-education was the key. His desk sat on the ground floor of a three-level atrium which on each level were bookshelves containing thousands of books, technical journals and patent records.

Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

Our favorite cubby hole in the old roll-top desk is simply labeled “New Things”, stuffed with ideas for investigation that could someday become new products. That little compartment completely captured the essence of his invention factory [R&D labs]…where the great inventor gave us the keys to the kingdom-the process of taking raw ideas and turning them into finished products; what we call today, team-based product development….or as some technology gurus call it- technology driven progress. Edison always encouraged his project teams, of which there were usually 30-40 at a time, to learn and educate themselves in new technologies. All his staff could use the “corporate library”, another hallmark of modern corporations.

We refer to our Edison Innovation Foundation educational materials for students and teachers as “Edison’s Desk”, evoking the spirit of the great inventor inside our products and services. Here are the things we currently offer within the Edison’s Desk education and media platform:

  • Solar and alternate energy resource books
  • Teacher seminars, videos and webcasts about invention
  • Annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge [conducted nationally]
  • Special science and technology programs offered at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and at schools
  • Educational articles for teachers and educators
  • New educational STEM-based lab on the second floor of the Edison Garage
  • Inventor’s notebook, used by teachers when teaching invention
  • Licensing opportunities to use Edison name or other intellectual property

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

Please connect with any of the media or education materials above and email us at info@thomasedison.org about any items you found helpful.

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