Thomas Alva Edison - 1,093 patents.
self-taught railroad telegrapher;
Menlo Park research lab 1876,
"wizard of Menlo Park"
commercially feasible system for generating & distributing electric light & power.
1808 Humphrey Davy - voltaic pile, battery.
Charles Brush - arc lighting system.
1880s, Brush arc light systems in San Fran, NY, Philly & Boston,
electric incandescent filament.
1870s Joseph Swan - globe vacuum.
Edison's lamps - 16 candlepower, "burners", meters, monthly bills for "light-hours".
Francis Upton, physicist & mathematician - systematic testing,
Upton, "I can answer questions very easily after they are asked, but find great trouble in framing any to answer."
Menlo Park team:
Charles Batchelor, mechanic;
John Kreusi, head of machine shop,
staff of 50;
aim was to produce "a minor invention every ten days and a big thing every six months or so."
October, 1879, carbonized cotton filament stayed lit forty hours.
1880-1882, basis for entire electric light system – invented special fuses, switches, meters, underground power mains, lamps & chandeliers.
NY lawyer Grosvernor Lowrey, arranging investors, public relations;
set of businesses – Edison Machine Works; Edison Electric Tube Company; Edison Lamp Works; Edison Electric Illuminating Company;
Pearl Street Station, world's first central electric power generating station.
NY financial district
Sept. 4, 1882.
NY Times: "it seemed almost like writing by daylight."
"the devil in the wires,"
1901 Sears catalog - electric belts.
Next challenge - good electric motor.
Frank Sprague, 1888, Richmond VA;
Electric streetcars twice as fast as horse-drawn cars, cleaner, easily lighted & heated in winter, more powerful.
Within 15 years, all but 1% of Richmond streetcars converted.
Davenport, Iowa tripled profits after converting;
stratification by class.
1850 Boston 3 mile radius; 1900 ten-mile radius.
1917, electric streetcars carrying over 11 billion passengers per year along almost 45,000 miles of track.
small town lines;
"interurban" lines (Ames to DM)
alternating current system, 1882, France;
George Westinghouse, 1886,
"battle of the currents."
DC advantage in urban area; had good motor.
AC good in rural areas.
Public relations – Edison demonstrations of AC’s high-voltage;
"Westinghousing, the electrocutioner's current."
Nikola Tesla, born 1856 in Croatia;
studied electrical engineering,
employed in telegraph office,
polyphase AC motor,
1882 Paris Continental Edison Company.
1888 demonstrated new AC motor;
1893 Westinghouse Chicago's Columbian Exposition - "White city"; electric railway, electric elevators, & electric-powered boats, & electric moving sidewalk.
General Electric's Tower of Light.
Westinghouse system Niagara Falls, 1895,
1880s state universities start teaching electric engineering;
new generation of systems-builders, managers & entrepreneurs;
Samuel Insull, head of Chicago Edison (Commonwealth Edison);
innovations - ultramodern central power station, first large-scale steam turbine generator.
dealing with demand, load factors;
promotes use of electricity: "A home without electric light is like a coat without a lining - unfinished, incomplete."
1917, one-third of Chicago households had electric power.
Midwest network of power - 1920s 8% of America's total electric power.
Edison - phonograph, grooved cylinder with tinfoil to catch vibrations engraved by needle.
"I was never so taken aback in my life - I was always afraid of things that worked first time."
1877 public demonstrations;
intended use – office & education;
1900, recordings by Caruso, etc.
1889, "kinetoscope" ("moving view")