Thomas Edison Essay

1269 words - 6 pages

‘Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration’, a quote widely believed to be uttered by a famous inventor, Thomas Alva Edison in the early 20th century. As such, his diligence has contributed to the progress of mankind. Before the 19th century and the birth of Thomas Edison, technology was limited and life was not as easy as it is today. Due to the absence of advanced technology, people relied on traditional methods to do work. Consequently, the productivity of the people during that time was low compared to the present. During his lifetime, Thomas Edison, introduced and invented various products that have revolutionized the way we live and is still regarded as ...view middle of the document...

One of Edison’s greatest achievements was the founding of his renowned ‘invention factory’ in Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1876 (ibid.). From then on, Edison started working on many projects including the creation of a prototype of the incandescent light bulb and the construction of the public’s first power plant (ibid.). By then, Edison built a newer and bigger research facility in West Orange, New Jersey. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2012) has found that, throughout his life, Edison succeeded in acquiring 1093 patents in the United States of America and claims that ‘only a few inventors have earned half as many’ (para. 11). On the 18th of October, 1931, Thomas Alva Edison passed away at 84 years of age.
There are however, claims that Thomas Edison is not ‘The Greatest Inventor’ and some people believe that the title belongs to an inventor called Nikola Tesla (Tesla, 2000). Nikola Tesla, who once worked with Thomas Edison, worked to improve some of Edison’s products after being promised a payment of $50,000 if he succeeded in doing so (Olster, 2013). However, when Tesla presented his work to Edison and asked for payment, Edison simply stated that he was joking about actually paying him (ibid.). In frustration, Tesla resigned and, since then, they became rivals (ibid.). Tesla (2000) claimed that Edison often stole his employees’ ideas causing criticism on the credibility of his inventions. In his entire lifetime, Thomas Edison accumulated a staggering number of patents (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Therefore, it is reasonable to question the origins of them. Edison’s numerous patents also become questionable when we take his research methods into account. According to Tesla’s quote on the New York Times the day after Edison died, his methods were inefficient and were trial-and-error based and his work could be reduced by 90 percent if he applied some scientific theories and calculations during his inventions (Cheney, 1981). For example, when Edison wanted to find a suitable filament for his incandescent light bulb, he tested thousands of materials including baywood, cedar and bamboo until he succeeded in achieving the results he desired (Franklin Institute, 2014). As such, how was he able to obtain such a large number of patents under his name if his methods are inefficient?
Furthermore, many inventions that were patented by Thomas Edison were actually not his. One such invention was the light bulb. It is argued that Joseph Swan was the actual pioneer of the light bulb (Smithsonian Institution, 2013). Smithsonian Institution (2013) also explained that Swan researched the use of carbon filaments in incandescent bulbs before Edison did. In 1879, Swan eventually succeeded in producing a functioning carbon lamp (ibid.). Edison,...

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