Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs

Keep the Spirit Alive-Teach Them in our Schools!

They are both gone now… …but their vision, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship endures, making them so very relevant to our modern society. Let us bring the spirit of these two American icons into the classroom, integrating it into the highly successful STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] teaching philosophy now sweeping our schools. Challenge our children to create and dream like them!

Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

  Steve Jobs 1955-2011                         Thomas Edison 1847-1931

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What Characterizes Inventors Like Edison?

Companies and educators try to define creativity and inventiveness. Business gurus and motivational speakers earn lucrative fees by likening it to a series of traits that can be easily identified and exploited. They know that, like Edison, inventors are agents of change and great economic growth; moving the world in new directions, creating wealth and new infrastructure. They are the ones who shift the paradigms, causing earthquakes in the fabric of civilization.

What Characterizes Inventors Like Edison?

Consider these characteristics of inventors [not in any rank/priority order]:

  • Not easily shaken by detractors—persistent in their work
  • Passionate about what they do
  • Willing to go against accepted thinking
  • Visionary and intuitive
  • Quantitative and analytical—facile with math
  • Not afraid of risk
  • Tolerant of ambiguity
  • Well developed sense of humor
  • Know how to unleash own creative spirit
  • Not afraid of failure—willing to learn from it
  • Can see the creative links to the arts
  • Focused on the future
  • See the whole problem and key parts simultaneously
  • Can sell their ideas to others
  • Builds teams with multi-disciplinary skills to accomplish goals
  • Document and protect inventive work
  • Solve problems from a multi-dimensional viewpoint.

Edison had his own defining characteristics, but those enumerated above tend to capture most of them. For the great inventor, it was largely the thrill of running to ground the problem at hand, to do something useful for mankind, and to constantly learn new things. These motivations fascinated the man throughout his incredibly productive 84-year life; and probably accounted for why, no matter what field he decided to work in, he was a success – and radically changed that field.

What Characterizes Inventors Like Edison?

Edison was a man in love with new ideas, someone who never seemed to lose that natural awe we have in childhood. Many of the great scientists who changed the world of physics and chemistry loved to “play” with ideas too-retaining that natural awe of the world. Edison was a man in continual re-birth. What a potion this would make for education at all levels today. Actually, educators are re-discovering the Edison magic, urging kids to think out of the box, like Old Tom did; and to use the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] techniques he pioneered at his legendary West Orange Labs. Edison….ever relevant…ever inspirational.

What Characterizes Inventors Like Edison?

Editor’s Deep Dive

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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The House that Babe Ruth….and Edison Built

Everyone knows the saying that Yankee Stadium is the house that Ruth built, a tribute to the iconic baseball player whose charisma and slugging power were legendary. His rise to prominence coincided with the rise in status of the great ballpark. Most folks however, don’t know that Thomas Edison’s Portland Cement was used to actually build the world’s most famous ballpark…about 68,000 bags in fact…..but, it wasn’t all he did with concrete.

 

Yankee Stadium-early 1923

Yankee Stadium-early 1923

 

Iconic photo of the playing field

Iconic photo of the playing field

Edison can be considered the father of pre-fabricated housing. He built a variety of concrete houses using complex molds and arrangements that allowed his workers to continuously pour a complete home in about six hours. A number of these homes exist today. His technology was licensed to builders, with several New Jersey housing clusters built. Edison also thought about a wide variety of other uses for concrete, including furniture and phonograph cabinets.

 

Model of Edison concrete house

Model of Edison concrete house

 

Steel molds used to construct concrete homes-completed house at right

Steel molds used to construct concrete homes-completed house at right

The garage and potting shed at Edison’s historic home, Glenmont in LlewellynPark in West Orange NJ are classic examples of his concrete building technology. Both structures were built about 1908-1909, and are in fine structural condition today, toured by many visitors to the site each year. The garage houses a variety of historic automobiles owned by the Edison family.

 

Edison garage at the site of his historic home

Edison garage at the site of his historic home

 

Potting shed and attached greenhouse

Potting shed and attached greenhouse

Edison’s work in concrete changed the cement industry as well. He redesigned the kilns used to make the concrete and increased their size radically, in most cases doubling their length. A great deal of the technology he used for concrete-making derived from his failed efforts to crush large scale rock formations to extract iron ore.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

Editor’s note:Very soon, there will begin a serious fund raising campaign to rehabilitate the garage and restore the Edison era automobiles there; including three electric vehicles, and the personal chauffer-driven car of Edison’s son, Charles, who used the car when he was governor of New Jersey [1940-44].

“Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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