The REAL Thomas Edison

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Phillip, Jan 2, 2005.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    How many of you know the real story of Thomas Edison and the invention of the "electric chair"?

    Thomas Edison and Nicole Tesla were in a fight over the type of electricity being used. Tesla was backed by Westinghouse and promoted AC current and Edison (who was better at exploiting things and selling them than inventing them ---like Steve Jobs).

    Edison promoted DC electrical current that required a power plant every square mile (won't go into the technical aspects.)

    Edison and General Electric were so mad because Tesla was getting his way that he proposed that AC current was more dangerous than DC current and Edison would prove it by killing a man on death row with it.

    The only thing is, Edison grossly miscalculated the amount of electricity to kill the man and he had to be shocked at least five times before he died of a horribly agonizing death after having 3rd degree burns, convultions, etc. for a period of time while Edison and the team discussed increasing the voltage levels and how they could go about doing it.

    In the long run, it was proven that Tesla's AC current would replace all DC for powerline transmissioin (except for modern high voltage DC, which is another story). Tesla died broke, but created many things, including transmission of radio, before Marconi was credited. Edison died a rich man due to his marketing and sales capabilities. Edison did not invent most of his products in fact, all of the different electrodes he tested on his light bulb were not tested by him, but by engineers that worked in his lab.

    Would you call the true story revisionist history, or would you call it the truth after history books claimed of these perfect historical men such as Edison?

    Just an interesting little --- true story!
    [​IMG]
     
  2. ChurchBoy

    ChurchBoy
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2003
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    0
    Edison sounds a lot like Bill Gates. :rolleyes:
    Gates wasn't really a great software engineer. His DOS was based on a program that he purchased from someone else. If it weren't for IBM's shortsightedness in allowing Gates to licence DOS would Gates be as wealthy as he is today?
     
  3. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bingo, that's also the reason I mentioned Steve Jobs. He was a great salesman, but Steve Wozniak designed the Apple 1.

    I don't mean to say Edison was not a smart man with lots of ideas, but he was an expert salesman and knew how to use other people's ideas to his own advantage.

    I always admired Edison until I heard about the electric chair incident, which I confirmed with more research. It seems as if he would go as far as using an untested method to kill someone on death row, then to miscalculate, it is sad.

    He also supposedly killed a lot of neighborhood animals to prove Tesla's AC current was dngerous. (Although, the current he used was just as dangerous.)
     
  4. LadyEagle

    LadyEagle
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b> <img src =/israel.gif>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    22,028
    Likes Received:
    1
  5. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tesla was a BRILLIANT scientist; although not the salesman like Edison. Great link. Other stories of Tesla are also fascinating, including plans to transmit power through the air to homes. This method of power transmission was demonstrated by Tesla and has never been duplicated, although it is supposedly something like the Tesla coil which generates long sparks of lightning from the top of a large coil topped with a metal ball. (Of course, named after Tesla.)

    For some fascinating history, get a good book on Tesla and read it. It will even have pictures of a HUGE tower that Westinghouse built for Tesla to transmit signals across the ocean before Marconi took the claim.

    Tesla was definitely a man before his time.

    Of course, electronic-engineering is my first career, so this is even more fascinating to me.

    Thank you for the post LadyEagle, I will include it in my collection of articles on my favorite historical engineer.
     
  6. Dale

    Dale
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am glad you mentioned the Woz.
    It is true that he was the technical wizard behind the Apple 1 but you have to remember that they were good friends and worked together. Jobs was the marketer and Waz was the "tech".
    I by no means defend everything that Jobs has done but by and large he has led a company that has innovated for years, basically his main talent is in knowing what products are good and what aren't. He does however get things a little ahead of time though occasionally.
    His vision of where digital music was going with iTunes and the iPod were brilliant.

    Ok, as far as Tesla and Edison, I will just have to get a book about that. I know I have heard my cousin talk about that a bit and I really should learn more about that.
     
  7. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dale, In no way did I intend to take any thunder from Steve. It took both to do the job (pun intended, I gues),even though they fought over quite a few things. Steve was a visionary. Woz was an engineer who was quite content to build one computer and play with it.

    Without Steve, Apple would never exist. Steve DOES know his marketing and is brilliant. Just look how it nose-dived after they fired him and look what has happened since he was rehired. [​IMG]

    Mr. Pepsi, certainly didn't do much long-term Apple saving strategy.

    There have been a couple of books written in the last decade about Tesla. At least one contains all of the cut-throat fightning that Westinghouse and GE did using both Tesla and Edison. And we think today's business is cut-throat. ;) Fascinating history. Both were far beyond their time.

    I agree 100%.
     
  8. Dale

    Dale
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    0
    Phillip,
    I understand what you are saying now.
    \
    As far as Tesla and Edison....now you have me interested in that too! :)
     
  9. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dale I HATED history in school. LITERALLY HATED IT. (Even college).

    Now, I can't seem to get enough of it.

    Actually, I think the change was when I was in Israel and we were walking around the outside of Jerusalem's old wall. They had excavated the gate through which they think Jesus carried the cross.

    For the first time ever, I was fascinated with something old. I got to thinking that Jesus, as a man, beaten and carrying His cross probably walked right through that very door that I was ten feet from. I think that is when the love of history began. Now, I can pick up a 100 BC coin that I collect and be amazed to think that "no telling WHO" might have had that coin in their hand and carried it "no telling where."

    Fascinating. . .
     
  10. Dale

    Dale
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think that happens to a lot of people. :)
     
  11. LadyEagle

    LadyEagle
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b> <img src =/israel.gif>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    22,028
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is really sad:

    [​IMG]

    Source


    The older I get, the more I think about forever -
    Lady Eagle, 2005 [​IMG]
     
  12. Roy

    Roy
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/0710.gif>

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2001
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    0
    The electric chair incident was really sad and violated the constitution with respect to cruel and unusual punishment. The prisoner should have at least had his sentence commuted after the first attempt to execute him. I'm not sure whether it was the forties or fifties when Louisiana had an electric chair malfunction and the prisoner was jolted but not killed. The electric chair was taken back to the shop and repaired. A month later, the prisoner was put to death in it.

    Roy
     
  13. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Roy, sad story. It is my understanding when Oklahoma used the electric chair it was policy to provide three activations that lasted a certain length of time. If the prisoner survived this, he was released. Nobody that I have ever heard of lived through it.

    In the Edison case, supposedly the guy was burned so badly by the first jolts that the usual stuff had occurred, (Eyes popping out, tongue burning black, etc.) I think the thought was that he was so injured that it was more humane to continue and kill him. I'm not saying this is right, I'm just telling the history.
     
  14. The Galatian

    The Galatian
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2001
    Messages:
    9,687
    Likes Received:
    0
    BTW, did you know that Edison did not actually invent the light bulb? He didn't even invent the first practical light bulb.

    Sir Joseph William Swan demonstrated a workable incandescent light in Newcastle almost a year before Edison "invented" it.
     
  15. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    I did not know this, but it does not surprise me at all. Edison was very good at "capitalizing" on other people's ideas.
     
  16. Roy

    Roy
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/0710.gif>

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2001
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    0
    According to the little story on the back of the "Kingsford" charcoal package, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford combined their genius minds and invented charcoal briquets. For that, we can all be forever grateful.

    Roy
     
  17. Turpius

    Turpius
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2004
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    0
    Maybe Edison was better at Marketing than inventing........
     
  18. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    That is the point. Just like Steve Jobs, he was.

    He was also not frid to use ideas he picked up from others; just like Jobs used the touch and feel of a mouse and interactive screen after seeing demonstrations of such as Zerox Parke.

    I am not saying that using other ideas is wrong. If the other person fails to protect their idea or follow through with marketing it, then there is nothing wrong with taking that idea to market. Many success stories come from people who are not very creative, but they can take other people's creations and turn them into viable business. Often the true inventor is not the person given the credit--it is often the person who did the best marketing job.
     
  19. Dale

    Dale
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    246
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, a lot of people don't realize that Xerox PARC (it is the Pala Alto Research Center) Did invent the Mouse but Xerox turned it down. Apple was very happy to use it and I understand that he brought many from Xerox to Apple that had invented it. That was a very good thing to do IMO. Since he actually hired the people who invented it.
    Steve Jobs is a master at two things, seeing a good idea and then marketing it.

    Bill Gates is good at something too for which I give him credit, sort of, he understands how to make people NEED his products. people WANT what Steve Jobs offers, they NEED Microsoft. OF course in many cases these days, that is more perception than fact but it is what most people think one way or the other.
     
  20. Phillip

    Phillip
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for correcting PARC, It has been so long since I have read the stories I actually forgot.

    Yes, you are absolutely correct about Gates. He is a lot smarter than people realize. Keep upgrading the software and forcing the software designers to keep up with the latest operating systems by making them easy to "hook" into and use the internal and powerful functions already programmed in.

    One thing about Bill was that his home background certainly didn't hurt. Having socially elite parents and a mother who was extremely high on the social ladder in Seattle, plus a very good attorney did a lot for the way Bill thinks and operates.

    I, for one, admire the man. I think most people who cut him down are just jealous that he has turned himself into the richest man in the world.

    Without his brains Microsoft would have never gotten beyond a little programming "hole-in-the-wall" in Albuquerque.
     

Share This Page

Loading...