Thomas Alva Edison
In Menlo Park, NJ
HIS LIFE AND INVENTIONS
FRANK LEWIS DYER
GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE EDISON LABORATORY
AND ALLIED INTERESTS
THOMAS COMMERFORD MARTIN
EX-PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE
OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS
Published in New York by Harper Brothers, 1929
THE VALUE OF EDISON'S INVENTIONS TO THE WORLD
IF the world were to take an account of stock, so to speak, and proceed in orderly fashion to marshal its tangible assets in relation to dollars and cents, the natural resources of our globe, from centre to circumference, would head the list. Next would come inventors, whose value to the world as an asset could be readily estimated from an increase of its wealth resulting from the actual transformations of these resources into items of convenience and comfort through the exercise of their inventive ingenuity.
Inventors of practical devices may be broadly divided into two classes--first, those who may be said to have made two blades of grass grow where only one grew before; and, second, great inventors, who have made grass grow plentifully on hitherto unproductive ground. The vast majority of practical inventors belong to and remain in the first of these divisions, but there have been, and probably always will be, a less number who, by reason of their greater achievements, are entitled to be included in both classes. Of these latter, Thomas Alva Edison is one, but in the pages of history he stands conspicuously pre-eminent--a commanding towering figure, even among giants.
The activities of Edison have been of such great range, and his conquests in the domains of practical arts so extensive and varied, that it is somewhat difficult to estimate with any satisfactory degree of accuracy the money value of his inventions to the world of to-day, even after making due allowance for the work of other great inventors and the propulsive effect of large amounts of capital thrown into the enterprises which took root, wholly or in part, through the productions of his genius and energies. This difficulty will be apparent, for instance, when we consider his telegraph and telephone inventions. These were absorbed in enterprises already existing, and were the means of assisting their rapid growth and expansion, particularly the telephone industry. Again, in considering the fact that Edison was one of the first in the field to design and perfect a practical and operative electric railway, the main features of which are used in all electric roads of to-day, we are confronted with the problem as to what proportion of their colossal investment and earnings should be ascribed to him.
Difficulties are multiplied when we pause for a moment to think of Edison's influence on collateral branches of business. In the public mind he is credited with the invention of the incandescent electric light, the phonograph, and other widely known devices; but how few realize his actual influence on other trades that are not generally thought of in connection with these things. For instance, let us note what a prominent engine builder, the late Gardiner C. Sims, has said: "Watt, Corliss, and Porter brought forward steam-engines to a high state of proficiency, yet it remained for Mr. Edison to force better proportions, workmanship, designs, use of metals, regulation, the solving of the complex problems of high speed and endurance, and the successful development of the shaft governor. Mr. Edison is pre- eminent in the realm of engineering."
The phenomenal growth of the copper industry was due to a rapid and ever-increasing demand, owing to the exploitation of the telephone, electric light, electric motor, and electric railway industries. Without these there might never have been the romance of "Coppers" and the rise and fall of countless fortunes. And although one cannot estimate in definite figures the extent of Edison's influence in the enormous increase of copper production, it is to be remembered that his basic inventions constitute a most important factor in the demand for the metal. Besides, one must also give him the credit, as already noted, for having recognized the necessity for a pure quality of copper for electric conductors, and for his persistence in having compelled the manufacturers of that period to introduce new and additional methods of refinement so as to bring about that result, which is now a sine qua non.
Still considering his influence on other staples and collateral trades, let us enumerate briefly and in a general manner some of the more important and additional ones that have been not merely stimulated, but in many cases the business and sales have been directly increased and new arts established through the inventions of this one man--namely, iron, steel, brass, zinc, nickel, platinum ($5 per ounce in 1878, now $26 an ounce), rubber, oils, wax, bitumen, various chemical compounds, belting, boilers, injectors, structural steel, iron tubing, glass, silk, cotton, porcelain, fine woods, slate, marble, electrical measuring instruments, miscellaneous machinery, coal, wire, paper, building materials, sapphires, and many others.
The question before us is, To what extent has Edison added to the wealth of the world by his inventions and his energy and perseverance? It will be noted from the foregoing that no categorical answer can be offered to such a question, but sufficient material can be gathered from a statistical review of the commercial arts directly influenced to afford an approximate idea of the increase in national wealth that has been affected by or has come into being through the practical application of his ideas.
First of all, as to inventions capable of fairly definite estimate, let us mention the incandescent electric light and systems of distribution of electric light, heat, and power, which may justly be considered as the crowning inventions of Edison's life. Until October 21, 1879, there was nothing in existence resembling our modern incandescent lamp. On that date, as we have seen in a previous chapter, Edison's labors culminated in his invention of a practical incandescent electric lamp embodying absolutely all the essentials of the lamp of to-day, thus opening to the world the doors of a new art and industry. To-day there are in the United States more than 41,000,000 of these lamps, connected to existing central-station circuits in active operation.
Such circuits necessarily imply the existence of central stations with their equipment. Until the beginning of 1882 there were only a few arc-lighting stations in existence for the limited distribution of current. At the present time there are over 6000 central stations in this country for the distribution of electric current for light, heat, and power, with capital obligations amounting to not less than $1,000,000,000. Besides the above-named 41,000,000 incandescent lamps connected to their mains, there are about 500,000 arc lamps and 150,000 motors, using 750,000 horse-power, besides countless fan motors and electric heating and cooking appliances.
When it is stated that the gross earnings of these central stations approximate the sum of $225,000,000 yearly, the significant import of these statistics of an art that came so largely from Edison's laboratory about thirty years ago will undoubtedly be apparent.
But the above are not by any means all the facts relating to incandescent electric lighting in the United States, for in addition to central stations there are upward of 100,000 isolated or private plants in mills, factories, steamships, hotels, theatres, etc., owned by the persons or concerns who operate them. These plants represent an approximate investment of $500,000,000, and the connection of not less than 25,000,000 incandescent lamps or their equivalent.
Then there are the factories where these incandescent lamps are made, about forty in number, repre- sensing a total investment that may be approximated at $25,000,000. It is true that many of these factories are operated by other than the interests which came into control of the Edison patents (General Electric Company), but the 150,000,000 incandescent electric lamps now annually made are broadly covered in principle by Edison's fundamental ideas and patents.
It will be noted that these figures are all in round numbers, but they are believed to be well within the mark, being primarily founded upon the special reports of the Census Bureau issued in 1902 and 1907, with the natural increase from that time computed by experts who are in position to obtain the facts. It would be manifestly impossible to give exact figures of such a gigantic and swiftly moving industry, whose totals increase from week to week.
The reader will naturally be disposed to ask whether it is intended to claim that Edison has brought about all this magnificent growth of the electric-lighting art. The answer to this is decidedly in the negative, for the fact is that he laid some of the foundation and erected a building thereon, and in the natural progressive order of things other inventors of more or less fame have laid substructures or added a wing here and a story there until the resultant great structure has attained such proportions as to evoke the admiration of the beholder; but the old foundation and the fundamental building still remain to support other parts. In other words, Edison created the incandescent electric lamp, and invented certain broad and fundamental systems of distribution of current, with all the essential devices of detail necessary for successful operation. These formed a foundation. He also spent great sums of money and devoted several years of patient labor in the early practical exploitation of the dynamo and central station and isolated plants, often under, adverse and depressing circumstances, with a dogged determination that outlived an opposition steadily threatening defeat. These efforts resulted in the firm commercial establishment of modern electric lighting. It is true that many important inventions of others have a distinguished place in the art as it is exploited today, but the fact remains that the broad essentials, such as the incandescent lamp, systems of distribution, and some important details, are not only universally used, but are as necessary to-day for successful commercial practice as they were when Edison invented them many years ago.
The electric railway next claims our consideration, but we are immediately confronted by a difficulty which seems insurmountable when we attempt to formulate any definite estimate of the value and influence of Edison's pioneer work and inventions. There is one incontrovertible fact--namely, that he was the first man to devise, construct, and operate from a central station a practicable, life-size electric railroad, which was capable of transporting and did transport passengers and freight at variable speeds over varying grades, and under complete control of the operator. These are the essential elements in all electric railroading of the present day; but while Edison's original broad ideas are embodied in present practice, the perfection of the modern electric railway is greatly due to the labors and inventions of a large number of other well-known inventors. There was no reason why Edison could not have continued the commercial development of the electric railway after he had helped to show its practicability in 1880, 1881, and 1882, just as he had completed his lighting system, had it not been that his financial allies of the period lacked faith in the possibilities of electric railroads, and therefore declined to furnish the money necessary for the purpose of carrying on the work.
With these facts in mind, we shall ask the reader to assign to Edison a due proportion of credit for his pioneer and basic work in relation to the prodigious development of electric railroading that has since taken place. The statistics of 1908 for American street and elevated railways show that within twenty- five years the electric-railway industry has grown to embrace 38,812 miles of track on streets and for elevated railways, operated under the ownership of 1238 separate companies, whose total capitalization amounted to the enormous sum of $4,123,834,598. In the equipments owned by such companies there are included 68,636 electric cars and 17,568 trailers and others, making a total of 86,204 of such vehicles. These cars and equipments earned over $425,000,000 in 1907, in giving the public transportation, at a cost, including transfers, of a little over three cents per passenger, for whom a fifteen-mile ride would be possible. It is the cheapest transportation in the world.
Some mention should also be made of the great electrical works of the country, in which the dynamos, motors, and other varied paraphernalia are made for electric lighting, electric railway, and other purposes. The largest of these works is undoubtedly that of the General Electric Company at Schenectady, New York, a continuation and enormous enlargement of the shops which Edison established there in 1886. This plant at the present time embraces over 275 acres, of which sixty acres are covered by fifty large and over one hundred small buildings; besides which the company also owns other large plants elsewhere, representing a total investment approximating the sum of $34,850,000 up to 1908. The productions of the General Electric Company alone average annual sales of nearly $75,000,000, but they do not comprise the total of the country's manufactures in these lines.
Turning our attention now to the telephone, we again meet a condition that calls for thoughtful consideration before we can properly appreciate how much the growth of this industry owes to Edison's inventive genius. In another place there has already been told the story of the telephone, from which we have seen that to Alexander Graham Bell is due the broad idea of transmission of speech by means of an electrical circuit; also that he invented appropriate instruments and devices through which he accomplished this result, although not to that extent which gave promise of any great commercial practicability for the telephone as it then existed. While the art was in this inefficient condition, Edison went to work on the subject, and in due time, as we have already learned, invented and brought out the carbon transmitter, which is universally acknowledged to have been the needed device that gave to the telephone the element of commercial practicability, and has since led to its phenomenally rapid adoption and world-wide use. It matters not that others were working in the same direction, Edison was legally adjudicated to have been the first to succeed in point of time, and his inventions were put into actual use, and may be found in principle in every one of the 7,000,000 telephones which are estimated to be employed in the country at the present day. Basing the statements upon facts shown by the Census reports of 1902 and 1907, and adding thereto the growth of the industry since that time, we find on a conservative estimate that at this writing the investment has been not less than $800,000,000 in now existing telephone systems, while no fewer than 10,500,000,000 talks went over the lines during the year 1908. These figures relate only to telephone systems, and do not include any details regarding the great manufacturing establishments engaged in the construction of telephone apparatus, of which there is a production amounting to at least $15,000,000 per annum.
Leaving the telephone, let us now turn our attention to the telegraph, and endeavor to show as best we can some idea of the measure to which it has been affected by Edison's inventions. Although, as we have seen in a previous part of this book, his earliest fame arose from his great practical work in telegraphic inventions and improvements, there is no way in which any definite computation can be made of the value of his contributions in the art except, perhaps, in the case of his quadruplex, through which alone it is estimated that there has been saved from $15,000,000 to $20,000,000 in the cost of line construction in this country. If this were the only thing that he had ever accomplished, it would entitle him to consideration as an inventor of note. The quadruplex, however, has other material advantages, but how far they and the natural growth of the business have contributed to the investment and earnings of the telegraph companies, is beyond practicable computation.
It would, perhaps, be interesting to speculate upon what might have been the growth of the telegraph and the resultant benefit to the community had Edison's automatic telegraph inventions been allowed to take their legitimate place in the art, but we shall not allow ourselves to indulge in flights of fancy, as the value of this chapter rests not upon conjecture, but only upon actual fact. Nor shall we attempt to offer any statistics regarding Edison's numerous inventions relating to telegraphs and kindred devices, such as stock tickers, relays, magnets, rheotomes, repeaters, printing telegraphs, messenger calls, etc., on which he was so busily occupied as an inventor and manufacturer during the ten years that began with January, 1869. The principles of many of these devices are still used in the arts, but have become so incorporated in other devices as to be inseparable, and cannot now be dealt with separately. To show what they mean, however, it might be noted that New York City alone has 3000 stock "tickers," consuming 50,000 miles of record tape every year.
Turning now to other important arts and industries which have been created by Edison's inventions, and in which he is at this time taking an active personal interest, let us visit Orange, New Jersey. When his present laboratory was nearing completion in 1887, he wrote to Mr. J. Hood Wright, a partner in the firm of Drexel, Morgan & Co.: "My ambition is to build up a great industrial works in the Orange Valley, starting in a small way and gradually working up."
In this plant, which represents an investment approximating the sum of $4,000,000, are grouped a number of industrial enterprises of which Edison is either the sole or controlling owner and the guiding spirit. These enterprises are the National Phonograph Company, the Edison Business Phonograph Company, the Edison Phonograph Works, the Edison Manufacturing Company, the Edison Storage Battery Company, and the Bates Manufacturing Company. The importance of these industries will be apparent when it is stated that at this plant the maximum pay-roll shows the employment of over 4200 persons, with annual earnings in salaries and wages of more than $2,750,000.
In considering the phonograph in its commercial aspect, and endeavoring to arrive at some idea of the world's estimate of the value of this invention, we feel the ground more firm under our feet, for Edison has in later years controlled its manufacture and sale. It will be remembered that the phonograph lay dormant, commercially speaking, for about ten years after it came into being, and then later invention reduced it to a device capable of more popular utility. A few years of rather unsatisfactory commercial experience brought about a reorganization, through which Edison resumed possession of the business. It has since been continued under his general direction and ownership, and he has made a great many additional inventions tending to improve the machine in all its parts.
The uses made of the phonograph up to this time have been of four kinds, generally speaking--first, and principally, for amusement; second, for instruction in languages; third, for business, in the dictation of correspondence; and fourth, for sentimental reasons in preserving the voices of friends. No separate figures are available to show the extent of its employment in the second and fourth classes, as they are probably included in machines coming under the first subdivision. Under this head we find that there have been upward of 1,310,000 phonographs sold during the last twenty years, with and for which there have been made and sold no fewer than 97,845,000 records of a musical or other character. Phonographic records are now being manufactured at Orange at the rate of 75,000 a day, the annual sale of phonographs and records being approximately $7,000,000, including business phonographs. This does not include blank records, of which large numbers have also been supplied to the public.
The adoption of the business phonograph has not been characterized by the unanimity that obtained in the case of the one used merely for amusement, as its use involves some changes in methods that business men are slow to adopt until they realize the resulting convenience and economy. Although it is only a few years since the business phonograph has begun to make some headway, it is not difficult to appreciate that Edison's prediction in 1878 as to the value of such an appliance is being realized, when we find that up to this time the sales run up to 12,695 in number. At the present time the annual sales of the business phonographs and supplies, cylinders, etc., are not less than $350,000.
We must not forget that the basic patent of Edison on the phonograph has long since expired, thus throwing open to the world the wonderful art of reproducing human speech and other sounds. The world was not slow to take advantage of the fact, hence there are in the field numerous other concerns in the same business. It is conservatively estimated by those who know the trade and are in position to form an opinion, that the figures above given represent only about one-half of the entire business of the country in phonographs, records, cylinders, and supplies.
Taking next his inventions that pertain to a more recently established but rapidly expanding branch of business that provides for the amusement of the public, popularly known as "motion pictures," we also find a general recognition of value created. Referring the reader to a previous chapter for a discussion of Edison's standing as a pioneer inventor in this art, let us glance at the commercial proportions of this young but lusty business, whose ramifications extend to all but the most remote and primitive hamlets of our country.
The manufacture of the projecting machines and accessories, together with the reproduction of films, is carried on at the Orange Valley plant, and from the inception of the motion-picture business to the present time there have been made upward of 16,000 projecting machines and many million feet of films carrying small photographs of moving objects. Although the motion-picture business, as a commercial enterprise, is still in its youth, it is of sufficient moment to call for the annual production of thousands of machines and many million feet of films in Edison's shops, having a sale value of not less than $750,000. To produce the originals from which these Edison films are made, there have been established two "studios," the largest of which is in the Bronx, New York City.
In this, as well as in the phonograph business, there are many other manufacturers in the field. Indeed, the annual product of the Edison Manufacturing Company in this line is only a fractional part of the total that is absorbed by the 8000 or more motion- picture theatres and exhibitions that are in operation in the United States at the present time, and which represent an investment of some $45,000,000. Licensees under Edison patents in this country alone produce upward of 60,000,000 feet of films annually, containing more than a billion and a half separate photographs. To what extent the motion-picture business may grow in the not remote future it is impossible to conjecture, for it has taken a place in the front rank of rapidly increasing enterprises.
The manufacture and sale of the Edison-Lalande primary battery, conducted by the Edison Manufacturing Company at the Orange Valley plant, is a business of no mean importance. Beginning about twenty years ago with a battery that, without polarizing, would furnish large currents specially adapted for gas-engine ignition and other important purposes, the business has steadily grown in magnitude until the present output amounts to about 125,000 cells annually; the total number of cells put into the hands of the public up to date being approximately 1,500,000. It will be readily conceded that to most men this alone would be an enterprise of a lifetime, and sufficient in itself to satisfy a moderate ambition. But, although it has yielded a considerable profit to Edison and gives employment to many people, it is only one of the many smaller enterprises that owe an existence to his inventive ability and commercial activity.
So it also is in regard to the mimeograph, whose forerunner, the electric pen, was born of Edison's brain in 1877. He had been long impressed by the desirability of the rapid production of copies of written documents, and, as we have seen by a previous chapter, he invented the electric pen for this purpose, only to improve upon it later with a more desirable device which he called the mimeograph, that is in use, in various forms, at this time. Although the electric pen had a large sale and use in its time, the statistics relating to it are not available. The mimeo- graph, however, is, and has been for many years, a standard office appliance, and is entitled to consideration, as the total number put into use up to this time is approximately 180,000, valued at $3,500,000, while the annual output is in the neighborhood of 9000 machines, sold for about $150,000, besides the vast quantity of special paper and supplies which its use entails in the production of the many millions of facsimile letters and documents. The extent of production and sale of supplies for the mimeograph may be appreciated when it is stated that they bring annually an equivalent of three times the amount realized from sales of machines. The manufacture and sale of the mimeograph does not come within the enterprises conducted under Edison's personal direction, as he sold out the whole thing some years ago to Mr. A. B. Dick, of Chicago.
In making a somewhat radical change of subject, from duplicating machines to cement, we find ourselves in a field in which Edison has made a most decided impression. The reader has already learned that his entry into this field was, in a manner, accidental, although logically in line with pronounced convictions of many years' standing, and following up the fund of knowledge gained in the magnetic ore-milling business. From being a new-comer in the cement business, his corporation in five years has grown to be the fifth largest producer in the United States, with a still increasing capacity. From the inception of this business there has been a steady and rapid development, resulting in the production of a grand total of over 7,300,000 barrels of cement up to the present date, having a value of about $6,000,000, exclusive of package. At the time of this writing, the rate of production is over 8000 barrels of cement per day, or, say, 2,500,000 barrels per year, having an approximate selling value of a little less than $2,000,000, with prospects of increasing in the near future to a daily output of 10,000 barrels. This enterprise is carried on by a corporation called the Edison Portland Cement Company, in which he is very largely interested, and of which he is the active head and guiding spirit.
Had not Edison suspended the manufacture and sale of his storage battery a few years ago because he was not satisfied with it, there might have been given here some noteworthy figures of an extensive business, for the company's books show an astonishing number of orders that were received during the time of the shut-down. He was implored for batteries, but in spite of the fact that good results had been obtained from the 18,000 or 20,000 cells sold some years ago, he adhered firmly to his determination to perfect them to a still higher standard before resuming and continuing their manufacture as a regular commodity. As we have noted in a previous chapter, however, deliveries of the perfected type were begun in the summer of 1909, and since that time the business has continued to grow in the measure indicated by the earlier experience.
Thus far we have concerned ourselves chiefly with those figures which exhibit the extent of investment and production, but there is another and humanly important side that presents itself for consideration namely, the employment of a vast industrial army of men and women, who earn a living through their connection with some of the arts and industries to which our narrative has direct reference. To this the reader's attention will now be drawn.
The following figures are based upon the Special Reports of the Census Bureau, 1902 and 1907, with additions computed upon the increase that has subsequently taken place. In the totals following is included the compensation paid to salaried officials and clerks. Details relating to telegraph systems are omitted.
Taking the electric light into consideration first, we find that in the central stations of the United States there are not less than an average of 50,000 persons employed, requiring an aggregate yearly pay- roll of over $40,000,000. This does not include the 100,000 or more isolated electric-light plants scattered throughout the land. Many of these are quite large, and at least one-third of them require one additional helper, thus adding, say, 33,000 employees to the number already mentioned. If we assume as low a wage as $10 per week for each of these helpers, we must add to the foregoing an additional sum of over $17,000,000 paid annually for wages, almost entirely in the isolated incandescent electric lighting field.
Central stations and isolated plants consume over 100,000,000 incandescent electric lamps annually, and in the production of these there are engaged about forty factories, on whose pay-rolls appear an average of 14,000 employees, earning an aggregate yearly sum of $8,000,000.
Following the incandescent lamp we must not forget an industry exclusively arising from it and absolutely dependent upon it--namely, that of making fixtures for such lamps, the manufacture of which gives employment to upward of 6000 persons, who annually receive at least $3,750,000 in compensation.
The detail devices of the incandescent electric lighting system also contribute a large quota to the country's wealth in the millions of dollars paid out in salaries and wages to many thousands of persons who are engaged in their manufacture.
The electric railways of our country show even larger figures than the lighting stations and plants, as they employ on the average over 250,000 persons, whose annual compensation amounts to not less than $155,000,000.
In the manufacture of about $50,000,000 worth of dynamos and motors annually, for central-station equipment, isolated plants, electric railways, and other purposes, the manufacturers of the country employ an average of not less than 30,000 people, whose yearly pay-roll amounts to no less a sum than $20,000,000,
The growth of the telephone systems of the United States also furnishes us with statistics of an analogous nature, for we find that the average number of employees engaged in this industry is at least 140,000, whose annual earnings aggregate a minimum of $75,000,000; besides which the manufacturers of telephone apparatus employ over 12,000 persons, to whom is paid annually about $5,500,000.
No attempt is made to include figures of collateral industries, such, for instance, as copper, which is very closely allied with the electrical arts, and the great bulk of which is refined electrically.
The 8000 or so motion-picture theatres of the country employ no fewer than 40,000 people, whose aggregate annual income amounts to not less than $37,000,000.
Coming now to the Orange Valley plant, we take a drop from these figures to the comparatively modest ones which give us an average of 3600 employees and calling for an annual pay-roll of about $2,250,000. It must be remembered, however, that the sums mentioned above represent industries operated by great aggregations of capital, while the Orange Valley plant, as well as the Edison Portland Cement Company, with an average daily number of 530 employees and over $400,000 annual pay-roll, represent in a large measure industries that are more in the nature of closely held enterprises and practically under the direction of one mind.
The table herewith given summarizes the figures that have just been presented, and affords an idea of the totals affected by the genius of this one man. It is well known that many other men and many other inventions have been needed for the perfection of these arts; but it is equally true that, as already noted, some of these industries are directly the creation of Edison, while in every one of the rest his impress has been deep and significant. Before he began inventing, only two of them were known at all as arts--telegraphy and the manufacture of cement. Moreover, these figures deal only with the United States, and take no account of the development of many of the Edison inventions in Europe or of their adoption throughout the world at large. Let it suffice
STATISTICAL RESUME (APPROXIMATE) OF SOME OF THE INDUSTRIES IN THE UNITED STATES DIRECTLY FOUNDED UPON OR AFFECTED BY INVENTIONS OF THOMAS A. EDISON
Annual Gross Rev- Number Annual Class of Industry Investment enue or of Em- Pay-Rolls sales Central station lighting and power $1,000,000,000 $125,000,000 50,000 $40,000,000 Isolated incandescent lighting 500,000,000 -- 33,000 17,000 000 Incandescent lamps 25,000,000 20,000,000 14,000 8,000 000 Electric fixtures 8,000,000 5,000,000 6,000 3,750,000 Dynamos and motors 60,000,000 50,000,000 30,000 20,000,000 Electric railways 4,000,000,000 430,000,000 250,000 155,000,000 Telephone systems 800,000,000 175,000,000 140,000 75,000,000 Telephone apparatus 30,000,000 15,000,000 12,000 5,500,000 Phonograph and motion pictures 10,000,000 15,000,000 5,000 6,000,000 Motion picture theatres 40,000,000 80,000,000 40,000 37,000,000 Edison Portland cement 4,000,000 2,000,000 530 400,000 Telegraphy 250,000,000 60,000,000 100,000 30,000,000 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Totals 6,727,000,000 1,077,000,000 680,530 397,650,000
that in America alone the work of Edison has been one of the most potent factors in bringing into existence new industries now capitalized at nearly $ 7,000,000,000, earning annually over $1,000,000,000, and giving employment to an army of more than six hundred thousand people.
A single diamond, prismatically flashing from its many facets the beauties of reflected light, comes well within the limits of comprehension of the human mind and appeals to appreciation by the finer sensibilities; but in viewing an exhibition of thousands of these beautiful gems, the eye and brain are simply bewildered with the richness of a display which tends to confuse the intellect until the function of analysis comes into play and leads to more adequate apprehension.
So, in presenting the mass of statistics contained in this chapter, we fear that the result may have been the bewilderment of the reader to some extent. Nevertheless, in writing a biography of Edison, the main object is to present the facts as they are, and leave it to the intelligent reader to classify, apply, and analyze them in such manner as appeals most forcibly to his intellectual processes. If in the foregoing pages there has appeared to be a tendency to attribute to Edison the entire credit for the growth to which many of the above-named great enterprises have in these latter days attained, we must especially disclaim any intention of giving rise to such a deduction. No one who has carefully followed the course of this narrative can deny, however, that Edison is the father of some of the arts and industries that have been mentioned, and that as to some of the others it was the magic of his touch that helped make them practicable. Not only to his work and ingenuity is due the present magnitude of these arts and industries, but it is attributable also to the splendid work and numerous contributions of other great inventors, such as Brush, Bell, Elihu Thomson, Weston, Sprague, and many others, as well as to the financiers and investors who in the past thirty years have furnished the vast sums of money that were necessary to exploit and push forward these enterprises.
The reader may have noticed in a perusal of this chapter the lack of autobiographical quotations, such as have appeared in other parts of this narrative. Edison's modesty has allowed us but one remark on the subject. This was made by him to one of the writers a short time ago, when, after an interesting indulgence in reminiscences of old times and early inventions, he leaned back in his chair, and with a broad smile on his face, said, reflectively: "Say, I HAVE been mixed up in a whole lot of things, haven't I?"
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