like the phonograph
Edison’s first sound recording was of himself singing Mary Had a Little Lamb. But the inventor saw the phonograph as something with far more uses than just recorded music. Among his suggestions for future uses of the phonograph were:
- To record books for the blind.
- Letter writing
- Record and preserve the last words of dying family members.
- Speaking dolls
- The teaching of elocution
and the light bulb
This tower stands at the site of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park, N.J., lab which was built in 1876. The original tower was built in 1929 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the invention of the light bulb. That tower was destroyed by lighting and was replaced by this one which was built in 1938. Atop the tower is a replica of the Edison light bulb.
Edison was not the first to create a light bulb. But the earlier versions were expensive, didn’t last and used up large amounts of energy. Edison promised, “to make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.” He produced a bulb that ran on a generator and lasted 13.5 hours.
One of the first buildings to be illuminated with Edison’s electric light bulbs was Sarah Jordan’s boarding house. “Aunt Sallie” was a distant relative of Edison’s. She left her home in Newark at his behest to run a boarding house in Menlo Park for Edison’s single employees (all male). It was the best lit place in town.
and the motion picture
Black Maria was the nation’s first film studio. The slanted roof on the right side of the studio would open and allow the sun to shine on the stage. As the hour of the day changed the position of the sun, the staff would get out and rotate the studio to keep nature’s spotlight on Edison’s motion picture stage.
In 1894 a kinetoscope parlor opened in New York City. The kinetoscope was an individual viewing machine with which a customer could insert a quarter and see some of the films produced at Black Maria. Among the early titles were Blacksmiths, Barber Shop, Cockfight, Wrestling and Trapeze.
and the waffle iron?
Edicraft was one of Thomas Edison’s companies that was housed at his lab in West Orange. Edicraft produced “electric servants” like the waffle maker below in the 1920’s. But alas, the Depression destroyed the market for luxury kitchen appliances and Edicraft went out of business in the 1930’s.