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Edison, Einstein on Orville Wright

Let’s rejoin our two intrepid friends Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison up in the cloud, and listen in to their conversation about the Wright Brothers. Then check out our contest at the end of the blog.

Albert Einstein (AE)
Good Morning Thomas. Say, you met that Orville Wright fellow didn’t you?

Thomas Edison (TE)
Sure did-back in 1913 as I remember, came out to my West Orange Labs, a couple of weeks before Christmas. Why do you ask?

December 18, 1913: Visit of Orville Wright to Edison’s West Orange Labs.  Front row l. to r. Mina Edison, daughter Madeleine, Orville Wright (light-colored suit), Thomas Edison, [unknown], John Sloane –husband of Madeleine.

December 18, 1913: Visit of Orville Wright to Edison’s West Orange Labs.
Front row l. to r. Mina Edison, daughter Madeleine, Orville Wright (light-colored suit), Thomas Edison, [unknown], John Sloane –husband of Madeleine.

Lot of fanfare about a new book about the Wright brothers, just came out, that McCullough writer fellow wrote the book-good reviews I hear.

Hey, isn’t that the fellow who wrote about you Albert?

Yes, it is! Well, I almost forgot about that.

Orville and his brother Wilber [who died young] did quite a nice job with making the airplane a practical device. Lots of controversy about whether they were first or not, but if they did not provide the proper controls for the wings, no one would be flying today. No small problem they solved in 1903, and then the interest overtook the whole world.

Orville being launched for an early flight in 1902. Brother Wilber and a friend are at each wingtip.

Orville being launched for an early flight in 1902. Brother Wilber and a friend are at each wingtip.

What reminds me of you Tom, is how they kept improving and refining their flying machine. Passion is what they had for their invention, like you did for yours.

If you don’t have passion, there is no need to be in the inventing business. I must say though I wondered how they made a connection between their other activities like an ongoing bicycle shop and powered flight; but then again inspiration can come from a variety of circumstances. Did I mention he was an Ohio boy like me? He came from Dayton, while I came from up north in Milan, near Lake Erie.

Sounds like those Midwest strong work values. Just like Henry Ford too!

That could very well be. Another thing I did not mention. When Orville was out visiting me he had quite a good time talking with my daughter Madeleine’s husband, John Sloane, who has an aeronautical business down in Newark. The airport there is becoming quite well known and used.

Thomas, consider how much change has come during our lives. Once the train was the way to travel– and then Henry brings the automobile, and you the electric vehicle; and along comes Orville and folks are no longer on the road, but in the air. Such change!

And 66 years later in 1969, there are footprints on the moon.

Let’s take a walk. I have been doing some of those Smoogle….no Google…….computer searches, and Mr. Orville Wright lives not far from us up here in the cloud. Maybe he and his brother would like to do a little inventing with us. What do you think?

Al…a splendid idea!

Who knows….maybe a plane flight is in our future?

Perhaps I should bring along my motion picture camera?

Einstein, Edison on Orville Wright

A Contest for our readers!

Win a gift of $100 for first place; $50 second; $25 third. Send us some words, say 150-250, as to which invention had the most impact on the world … the light bulb; the airplane; or theory of relativity. Contest closes on June 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm. Email info@thomasedison.org to enter.

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


Happy Birthday Thomas Edison! (February 11th)

Happy Birthday Thomas Edison! (February 11th)

Born: Milan, Ohio

Occupation: Inventor, entrepreneur, project manager, technology leader, manufacturer, businessman

Accomplishments: 1,093 patents

Major industries impacted:

  • music industry (phonographs)
  • motion pictures (camera to projector)
  • power industry/electric light bulb
  • the West Orange invention factory [R&D labs]

Championed and built [100 years ago]:

  • electric vehicles
  • storage batteries
  • in-garage charging stations
  • revamped the concrete industry with new and larger kiln designs (Portland Cement)
  • major improvements to telephone in collaboration with Alexander Graham Bell

Most Recognized Edison Quote: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Impact on the World:

  • The technology, inventions and industries that he created still account for $1.5 trillion of U.S. economy [about 10% of U.S. GDP]; about 4 times that for world economy
  • Life Magazine [1996] proclaimed him the “Man of the Millennium”
  • TIME Magazine featured him on cover of special July 2010 history issue-proclaiming him so relevant to our world today
  • Voice of America claims Edison’s technology is responsible for one-fourth of all the world’s jobs
  • He is the human icon for invention and creativity
  • Inspiration to generations of inventors and entrepreneurs

His multi-dimensional, multi-disciplinary method of problem solving has become the taproot for the hands-on, problem solving paradigm known as STEM, now sweeping the nation’s schools

FANS – Acknowledged Edison during their career

  • Steve Jobs, Apple
  • Jeff Bezos, Amazon
  • Google Team, Innovators
  • Bon Jovi, Musician
  • Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO



Edison to Einstein – Happy Birthday 3/14

Edison salutes the genius of Einstein and celebrates his upcoming birthday on March 14th.

Although Thomas Edison (1847-1931) was considerably older than Albert Einstein (1879-1955), both men were quite similar in their ability to change the world; Edison in our physical world and standards of living, and Einstein in redefining the universe and our relationship with it. These two men are often referred to as being among the top change agents in world history.

Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein - Fellow Innovators

Both had an indomitable persistence in trying new ideas, as exemplified through similar quotes:


“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”


“I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

They also possessed a “no bones about it” outlook on thinking outside the box-


“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”


“There are no rules here. We are trying to accomplish something!”

Edison and Einstein were indefatigable workers, hot on the trails of their respective areas of expertise. Work and play for them were largely indistinguishable. Copious notes were kept by both men, always aware of the need for continuous research and self-improvement. Their lives reflected great personal discipline and focus.

In the year of Einstein’s birth 1879, Edison invents the first commercially viable electric light, and on December 31st of that year, lights up his Menlo Park Facility—the first Christmas holiday light display is born. There is another interesting play on “light” as well. Einstein goes on to revolutionize physics with his interpretations of light and its relationship to matter and energy with his famous equation stating that “energy equals mass times the speed of light squared”.

E = MC2

Two great innovators both working with light. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it!

Happy Birthday Albert Einstein!


Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent …”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Happy Birthday Thomas Edison!

Happy Birthday Thomas Edison!

This February 11th marks the 165th birthday [1847-1931] of the world’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, the Man of the Millennium as Life magazine once proclaimed him. In July 2010, TIME magazine [see photo at bottom] devoted its cover to the great inventor, with feature articles inside extolling his relevance today.

This year is also the 135th anniversary of the phonograph, what Edison termed his most favorite invention.

“…I’ve made some machines; but this is my baby, and I expect it to grow up to be a big feller and support me in my old age.”

Happy Birthday Thomas Edison! His name is synonymous with creativity, invention and entrepreneurship. Engineering organizations hold annual national Engineering Week celebrations around his birthday. Invention societies often induct new members this time of year. The highly popular STEM programs in schools today draw heavily on his inter-disciplinary, multi-dimensional way of solving R&D problems and new product development…the very basis of Edison’s invention factory, later to become our national, academic and corporate R&D labs. His tear drop-shaped light bulb is a universal icon of the bright new idea, something no compact florescent bulb will ever replace.

Edison died in 1931, but his incredible legacy lives on to continue benefiting mankind. The annual economic value to the nation, from his major industrial innovations of R&D labs, electric light and power, recorded sound and motion pictures, has been estimated at approximately $1.5 trillion… 10% of our current gross domestic product.

The hand-held device we all carry around, our cell phone or smart phone, is a testament to Edison, for inside is recorded sound, motion pictures…and when it gets tired from overuse, we plug it into Edison’s model of the electric utility system. He is in everyone’s pocket, purse, or coat, never far from the people he valued the most…..the customer. [Check out Edison TV]

Two of his accidental laboratory “scientific discoveries”, while not made into memorable Edison inventions, were duly recorded in his lab notebooks, later to become the basis for radio-telegraphy (wireless), vacuum tubes, and radio. His visionary work on electric vehicles back in the early 1900s astutely anticipated where gasoline-powered cars would take us….over-dependence on oil, and polluted cities.

GE charging stations for street use; GE® is a registered trademark of General Electric

GE charging stations for street use; GE® is a registered trademark of General Electric

In his later years, Edison’s recognition of the potential of solar and wind energy is found today on every solar/wind equipment supplier’s website.

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

What remains so inspirational in the minds of inventors the world over is Edison’s indomitable spirit and acceptance of failure as a necessary way of life, an opportunity to learn and profit from … a kind of “fail your way to success” credo that suffuses the late night hours of all inventors … when the chips seem down and success appears to be a long way off—that never give up spirit that has come to characterize what we used to call “Yankee ingenuity”. That is what Thomas Edison represents, the rugged individual, a fierce self-determination and drive we all harbor deep within, the American spirit, that Horatio Alger story writ large, visceral, palpable. One can only guess how many of our nation’s almost 8 million patents are a direct testimony to Edison’s inspirational impact on the patent holders. It’s there, and every year as students come to see his legendary West Orange Labs, you can spot that twinkle in their young eyes, that … “I am going to be just like him” … look. Tom is alive and well, and we are all better for it.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“My desire is to do everything within my power to free people from drudgery and create the largest measure of happiness and prosperity.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc