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Edison and the Rise of Innovation (2013)

de Leonard DeGraaf

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Edison presents, in intimate detail, the man who helped engineer the modern world. One of history's most prolific inventors and perhaps America's first celebrity, Thomas Alva Edison did more than bring incandescent light into every household and industry; he created a world-renowned brand, raised capital to support research and business and pursued patents for his 1,000+ inventions. Leonard DeGraaf, archivist for the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, chronicles Edison's life and work, making lively and lavish use of never-before-published primary sources, including Edison's personal and business correspondence, lab notebooks, drawings and advertising material, along with both historic and modern photographs.… (més)
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This is a museum-in-a-book -- the visual interest of lush exhibits (provided from several Edison nonprofits/philanthropies) and the information of a knowledgeable docent (here, the writing of archivist Leonard DeGraaf).

It’s a biography of Edison’s life and a chronicle of his work, including his invention of the electric light, phonograph, battery, motion picture, cement, rubber and ore mining. It’s also an examination of his work philosophy, and I was most interested to read about his interest in collaboration (expanding on others’ ideas; soliciting diverse employee skills and perspectives) and his all-out dedication to commercial inventions (things that people would buy):

“I am not a scientific man, I am an inventor. ...A scientific man busies himself with a theory. He is absolutely impractical. An inventor is essentially practical.”

While informative, the text feels a little dry and documentary (like a docent) rather than being an engaging narrative. Edison-philes won't mind that, but it did curb my enthusiasm.

(Review based on a copy of the book provided by the publisher.) ( )
  DetailMuse | Feb 25, 2014 |
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Gates, BillPròlegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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(Foreword) There's no question in my mind that one of America's greatest gifts to the world is our capacity for innovation.
(Preface) As a measure of how Thomas Edison changed the world, consider this: When he was born in 1847, there were no industrial research laboratories, no phonographs, no motion picture cameras, and no electric power systems, let alone practical electric lights.
(Introduction) There are two Thomas Edisons: the mythic, larger-than-life "Wizard of Menlo Park" - a tireless heroic inventor with an inexhaustible supply of ideas who gave us light, sound, and moving pictures - and the Innovator who spent his life solving technical problems in shops and laboratories and creating companies to manufacture and market new technologies.
Boston was a supportive environment for aspiring young inventors like Edison.
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Edison presents, in intimate detail, the man who helped engineer the modern world. One of history's most prolific inventors and perhaps America's first celebrity, Thomas Alva Edison did more than bring incandescent light into every household and industry; he created a world-renowned brand, raised capital to support research and business and pursued patents for his 1,000+ inventions. Leonard DeGraaf, archivist for the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, chronicles Edison's life and work, making lively and lavish use of never-before-published primary sources, including Edison's personal and business correspondence, lab notebooks, drawings and advertising material, along with both historic and modern photographs.

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