Author Archives: Edison Innovation Foundation

Who was the Inventor they called Lady Thomas Edison?

Margaret Knight (February 14, 1838 – October 12, 1914) was an inventor who lived during the time of Thomas Edison. Like Edison, she gravitated toward technology and invention at a very young age when she was inspired to invent a factory safety device after witnessing an accident in the cotton mill where she worked. Margaret went on to accumulate many patents and inventions for industrial and everyday machines during her productive life. She and Edison even shared the same birth and death months. So who was this woman they called the “woman Edison”?

Margaret Knight working in a cotton mill as a little girl. Via Library of Congress.

In 2006, the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame recognized Margaret for her 1879 patent of a machine for making flat-bottom paper bags. This machine enabled the mass production of the paper bags used to carry groceries and pack lunches. She acquired two more patents for further improvements she made to the paper bag machine. Grocery stores around the world still use her bag design. Margaret Knight was one of the first women to receive a patent, most notably for her invention of the flat-bottomed paper bag machine. Worth noting, 1879 was the same year as Edison’s iconic lightbulb invention!

Margaret Knight’s 1879 Patent for the Paper-Bag Machine. Via inventivekids.com.
Margaret Knight’s paper bag machine demonstrates women’s participation in the early patent system, when many women found it difficult to put their own names on inventions. Photo via National Museum of American History.

Knight invented three domestic items in the 1880s. In 1883 she designed a dress and skirt shield. The next year she developed a clasp for holding robes. Then in 1885 she designed a spit; a spit is a long, pointed tool used to skewer meat for cooking.

In 1890 Knight turned to a new field for her inventions. This time she focused on the making of shoes. Before shoes were sewn together, a person or machine used a pattern to cut them out of large pieces of material. Knight designed several machines that improved this process of shoe cutting. In just four years she acquired six patents for her inventions in this field.

A few years passed before Knight began working with motors and rotary engines to produce her next set of inventions. In the early 1900s she created a number of components for rotary engines and motors. Her first was patented in 1902, her last in 1915. The sleeve-valve automobile engine was her most notable invention in this category. When she died in 1914, Knight had acquired at least 27 patents and made approximately 90 inventions. Her largely self-taught abilities and great interest in machinery made her an extraordinary American inventor of the industrial era. This ability to educate herself was just another trait she shared with Thomas Edison!

Today, there have been many publications created about the most famous 19th-century woman inventor, Margaret Knight. To learn more about her impressive life, dive deeper into the recommended books below:

Margaret Knight: Girl Inventor

In the Bag!: Margaret Knight Wraps It Up

Marvelous Mattie

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Restoring & Protecting National Treasures at the Edison National Historical Park

It sure has been unprecedented summer. With our favorite place in the world, the Thomas Edison National Historical Park (TENHP), closed for the last few months we decided to take the opportunity to do some fun renovations that we wouldn’t normally be able to do when the courtyard filled with Edison fans…

Our latest project at TENHP has been restoring the courtyard patio space, which not only serves as the site for the Edison Pitch Contest Finals, but also serves to protect 5 million of Edison’s historical papers that are housed under it. This collection of papers is the largest in the world, with approximately 5 million (more than the Leonardo da Vinci collection). It includes the famous notebooks that Edison always carried with him, important letters of correspondence with other historical figures, and even the early doodles that generated his most famous inventions. These are only some of the files analyzed by historical professionals at the Rutgers Edison Papers Project.

Thanks to this project, park visitors will be able to safely walk, quite literally, on top of the artifacts that serve as the foundation of our country’s history…while getting a better look at the Black Maria (the world’s first recording studio) and taking a rest from a long day of learning under the new tent. 

Ready to plan your next visit to the park? As the park makes steps towards reopening completely, they have introduced new cellphone tours in the courtyard & Glenmont as well as certain buildings like the Chemical Lab and Machine Shop. To stay updated on their reopening phases, click here

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Thomas Edison Rocks India Licensing Expo 2020

John Keegan Discusses the Power of a Deep-Rooted Story in Licensing

Last month, our Edison Foundations participated in the international India Licensing Expo Virtual 2020! Thomas Edison’s IP was displayed in a virtual booth among other powerful international brands. Our President and Chairman, John Keegan, was excited be invited to participate in a panel discussion where he discussed the current state of licensing with other global leaders.

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9 Famous Edison Quotes For Your Graduation Cap

Congrats to the Class of 2020! After an year full of unexpected hardship, you should be proud of  the perseverance and hard work that you have shown not only in 2020 but for the last 4 years in school. Whether you are able to have a ceremony or not, it’s time to celebrate by decorating your graduation caps and tossing them in the air. What better way to symbolize your achievements than with an Edison quote?

Edison was a quote machine, literally. Reporters loved to interview him for his penchant to coin a phrase. His quotes are used in advertising, history books, merchandise, offices, classroom walls, and more to this day. His introspective words are just as relevant to students today as they were to newspaper readers during his time.

To celebrate college & high school graduations, Edison Innovation Foundation is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner! All you have to do is decorate your cap with your favorite Edison quotes (some suggestions below and post it on your Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #EdisonGradCap (be sure your profile is public so we can see the post). Our team will be featuring the best caps all month and on July 1st, we will announce the winner of the gift card!

Our Favorite Edison Quotes:

  1. “There’s a better way to do it. Find it.”
  2. “I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  3. “There is no substitute for hard work.”
  4. “I start where the last man left off.”
  5. “What you are will show in what you do.”
  6. “Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” 
  7. “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”  
  8. “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” 
  9. “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”

These might not be your favorites, but fear not, for you are free to use any you like. Check out thomasedison.org for many more Edison quotes!

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