Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison didn't technically have supernatural powers, but he didn't earn the nickname "the Wizard of Menlo Park" for nothing. Before his death, in 1931, the prolific inventor amassed a record 1,093 patents for creations including the phonograph, the motion-picture camera, the incandescent lightbulb, the alkaline storage battery and the first commercial electric light and power system — all of which he created at Menlo Park, the world's first industrial-research facility. Founded in 1876 in New Jersey, the lab would eventually span two city blocks, becoming an impressive model of efficiency and productivity for generations of tinkerers to come; some historians would later say the lab itself was Edison's greatest invention. But though "the world was made over by Edison's magic," as the New York Times once proclaimed, the Ohio native maintained a modest view of his abilities. "Genius," he famously confessed, "is about 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration."