Tag Archives: thomas edison

Edison and Einstein – Take a “Selfie” Photo

Somewhere in the cloud, two great men sit in a small sailboat, having a mythical discussion, catching rays and lounging their hands in the cool, green water. Rumpled, comfortable Fedora hats on their heads …

Edison and Einstein - Take a “Selfie” Photo

Thomas Alva Edison (TAE):
Albert, thanks for the ride on your sailboat. It reminds me of my winter home in Fort Myers. I really miss that.

Albert Einstein (AE):
My pleasure Tom. Sailing always relaxed me when I had some deep thinking to do.

Speaking of deep thinking, I must tell you Al, I never could understand your theory of light thing, with the speed of light as a cosmic speed limit; and time being variable. Wow, that really bent my brain!

It’s just the way the math worked out-no big thing. You know … we both had our fling with light-my theory and your light bulb experiments. What patience you had with all the filament experiments performed.

Well I was much younger then and eager to make a mark for myself. You were no slouch yourself with those four incredible scientific papers you published in 1905. Al, you changed the world of physics. Let me see if I remember what those papers had to do with … your special theory of relativity, the photoelectric effect, that famous equation of yours [E = mc2] and something called Brownian motion. Those papers are all brain-busters my friend!

Let me compliment you as well Tom….with your inventions of recorded sound, motion pictures, the electric light and the electric utility system; and you taught the commercial world about the steps for creating new products without limit—the invention factory concept … which led to R&D labs in every major company today. That is real, economic growth.

I must comment here Al. All your theoretical work laid the foundation for solid state physics—leading to transistors and integrated circuits. Some folks call you the father of solid state physics, what drives our Internet, telecommunications, and smart phones today. And this also is big-time economic growth.

We both had some great fun didn’t we? I wish we could do it all over today.

Edison and Einstein - Take a “Selfie” Photo

You know Al, we should open a little shop up here in the cloud-do some tinkering and inventing; maybe come up with some new theories. You had some inventions of your own as I recall. We could team up with the theory and practicality-making folks stand-up and notice we old dogs on the block.

Sounds like fun, but there must be time to sail.

Absolutely, and time to read and research.

What will we call this little shop?

Wait for it Al … ”Inventions at the Speed of Light”.

You always did have a way with words!

Edison and Einstein- Take a “Selfie” Photo

How about we do a nice webpage, featuring a monster “selfie” photo of us, just like the modern celebrities do?

I can picture that….but first I have a question. You were always good at anticipating the future, where technology would go. You nailed that electric vehicle application, anticipating it over 100 years ago. What do you see in the next 50 years?

Al … I need to think that over for a couple of days. I can tell you this … it is going to be very interesting!

[Readers: What technological innovations do you see in the next 50 years? Let us know. Drop us your thoughts at info@thomasedison.org. The top 3 submissions will receive Amazon gift cards: first place-$50; second place-$25; and third place-$10. We do reserve the right to cancel this offer if only a few folks respond.]

One last thing Tom, maybe we should try and contact that Michael Faraday fellow we both admired. Get him to join us. Michael was a fine experimentalist.

I agree. His electric motor invention rocked my world I can tell you that. He had a big influence on my thinking…my kind of guy!
Al, let’s do our “selfie” photo now so it’s ready for the new webpage.

Edison and Einstein - Take a “Selfie” Photo

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said: “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.





Predict the future now

Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein both had great vision which enabled them to see and predict future developments in Technology and Mathematics.


E-mail a few sentences (or more) on what you see as potential major developments in Technology and/or Math OVER THE NEXT 50 YEARS

You need to follow the lead of Edison and Einstein and really “let it rip”. They may even send you a “congrats” email from the cloud, if they really like your stuff. Back on earth you can win the following prizes (under 18 card goes to your parent);

1st prize: $50 Amazon (or Alibaba) gift card
2nd prize: $25 Amazon (or Alibaba) gift card
3rd prize: $10 Amazon (or Alibaba) gift card

Teachers get double credit cards if they use their Amazon purchases for the class room. Contest is open to all readers and visitors to our web and social media sites, i.e. www.ThomasEdison.org, www.EdisonMuckers.org, www.Pinterest.com/thomasaedison and www.Facebook.com/thomasedison.

Send your predictions to Edison Innovation Foundation at info@thomasedison.org, before Oct 31, 2014. Winners will be notified directly and their names posted on our blog.


Bill Gates Salutes Thomas Edison

In a Foreword to a new book, “Edison and the Rise of Innovation” about Thomas Edison, Bill Gates salutes Edison with these words:

“In the pantheon of American innovation Thomas Edison holds a unique place”

“He certainly has been an inspiration to me in my career. I am lucky enough to own a few pieces of Edison memorabilia…”

“Thomas Edison remains a powerful exemplar of creativity, perseverance and optimism…” [Bill Gates – Edison and The Rise of Innovation]

“Edison and the Rise of Innovation” is a collaboration among the Charles Edison Fund and Edison Innovation Foundation, Sterling Publishing, the National Park Service and is written by veteran author, Leonard DeGraaf, archivist at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, New Jersey.  On September 25 (Wednesday),  the book will be available in Barnes & Noble books stores and on their web site at www.barnesandnoble.com.

This important new book already has a very big fan, Bill Gates, who penned the Foreward.

Edison and the Rise of Innovation

People know Edison for his 3 major inventions, the electric light bulb and the power industry, the phonograph and the motion picture camera, but the great inventor also was a brilliant entrepreneur who knew how to bring his innovative ideas to the marketplace.

Edison and the Rise of Innovation

Over the course of his long career, Edison organized and managed dozens of manufacturing and marketing companies. In the process of adopting new production and sales strategies, he helped create a mass consumer market in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; and also branding himself in the process. From his modest roll-top desk in his invention factory office/library, Old Tom routinely managed about 40 new product development teams and 30 companies that supported his operations and sold his products. If that is not an operational definition of an innovator, what is!

The crisp text and explanations by Author DeGraaf are fun to read and the photos in the book are illuminating. This book is a keeper. You STEM teachers out there…make sure you get a copy in your school library or for your classroom. Edison is the “STEMeister”, the taproot of team-based, multidisciplinary problem solving.

A copy of the book can be purchased now on Barnes & Noble website.

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



Thomas Edison – Project Manager Extraordinaire

In pioneering his invention factory concept, transforming invention from a cottage industry into a commercial powerhouse for new product development, Thomas Edison crafts the important corporate position we know today as project management. This key position in most companies belongs to men and women who know how to transform raw ideas into new products, using powerful team-based activities and coordination.

The Edison Invention Factory-Thomas Edison National Historical Park

The Edison Invention Factory-Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Many project managers handle several projects at once, probably in related technologies, so as to maximize potential synergy between them. It was not unusual for Edison to have 30 or more projects proceeding simultaneously, cross-pollinating his ideas, and observations. To accomplish this, Edison used a variety of techniques as discussed below.

Thomas Edison clocking in another 90 week!

Thomas Edison clocking in another 90 week!

Tom worked as hard or harder than his teams, often putting in 90 hours a week of work. No one could accuse “the old man” of goofing off.

Laughter and practical jokes were an encouraged means by which his teams broke through roadblocks or let off steam creatively. [Tom gave as good as he got in the practical joke department!]

Creative tension was inherent in all work as Edison urged his teams to invent something minor every 10 days and something major every 6 months.

New technological and scientific advances were quickly exploited in the labs as his teams tried to create something useful from these breakthroughs. A key resource was the massive company library-where Edison kept his business office. There, 20,000 volumes contained the great scientific and technological achievements of the day, the raw materials for further innovations.

His inventors always had access to new information and plenty of raw materials to support their work. Edison often boasted he could make anything from a woman’s watch to a locomotive in his shops. His large storeroom contained just about everything his inventors would need.

Thomas understood the inevitability and possible serendipity associated with failure; and constantly encouraged his teams to learn from it. His famous line was “fail your way to success!”

To keep projects on track and new products on schedule, the great inventor used timelines, critical path analysis techniques, and exploded parts diagrams to show how assembly should be done in his factories. This was completely consistent with the rise of industrial efficiency models of the early 1900s.

Tom and his “insomniac squad” having a meal after an all-nighter.

Tom and his “insomniac squad” having a meal after an all-nighter.

This all worked quite nicely, as the 250 employees who manned his invention factory, including team leaders, technical experts in physics/chemistry/engineering, and craftsmen produced enough new products to keep over 10,000 employees busy producing and shipping his products all over the world. All this productive activity occurred on about 20 acres of real estate. It was this tremendous leverage he achieved between R&D, new product development, and economic stimulus that propelled many of the nation’s then nascent corporations to develop project management directed R&D organizations-most of which were established between 1895 and about 1920. Edison had set the pace and path for economic progress, a paradigm we and the world still follow faithfully today.

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“Personally, I enjoy working about 18 hours a day. Besides the short catnaps I take each day, I average about four to five hours of sleep per night.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.