You see writers expressing their thoughts about historical figures as being man or woman of the century. Magazines often laud seminal thinkers and statesman as person of the year. With Edison, Life magazine honored him as Man of the Millennium, a person who brought more value to the human race than any other, literally giving us our modern world and standards of living. His four great inventions were recorded sound, motion pictures, the electric light bulb and utility industry, and corporate R&D labs from which new products continue to flow in abundance.
Edison knew that intellectual property [IP] had great economic value. West Orange was built to perfect his invention factory concept, and tie it firmly to the business of new product development…. a 125 year-old entrepreneurial concept that has kept the industrial revolution of the mid-to-late 1800s alive and flourishing to this day. It is the reason he defended his IP so vigorously. His influence on succeeding generations of inventors and entrepreneurs is without question; and continues to inspire new generations. His image is the national symbol of great new things.
Literally, the West Orange lab is the “mother ship of American innovation”. A 2012 report from the Commerce Department indicated that 40 million U.S. jobs are linked to intellectual property use. Those IP intensive jobs account for almost $5 trillion to U.S. GDP, about 30% of our current economy. Furthermore, this report found that exports from IP intensive industries totaled $775 billion in 2010, about 61% of merchandise exports. Another important finding showed that for every two jobs in IP intensive industries, another job was generated elsewhere in the economy. Thomas Edison is the taproot for all this.
No doubt this Thomas Edison fellow made quite a difference in the world, wouldn’t you say? Take a quick tour of some very interesting monuments that have been erected in his honor. This photo below is a memorial in Kyoto, Japan to Mr. Edison and his use of Kyoto bamboo as an early bulb filament. Many nations celebrate Mr. Edison and teach their school children about what this great man accomplished.
Henry Ford had this memorial below commissioned in 1948 and located at Greenfield Village, in Dearborn Michigan. Ford and Edison were close friends, and Ford was heavily influenced in his own inventions and automobile industry operation by his life-long friendship with Edison.
Honoring his great iron ore mining work, in the far northern area of New Jersey [Sparta-Ogdensburg], this memorial was erected in 1980. Later, the rock crushing technology invented here was used for making Edison’s own popular construction cement [which was used in the building of the original Yankee Stadium and his business to build low cost concrete homes].
Edison played a pivotal role during WWI in assisting the nation with the development of defenses against the German U-boat threat. Working with national teams of scientists, inventors, technologists and engineers, this effort eventually led to the formation of the Naval Research Labs in the early 1920s; and served as the model for the Manhattan Project in WWII; and subsequently the highly respected U.S. national labs. This memorial to Edison below is located at the entrance to the Naval Research Labs.
Thomas Edison – Man of the Millennium – said … “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”
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