From the electric light and the telegraph to the fuel cell and the universal stock printer, Thomas Edison made magic from his lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey (now named after the inventor).In an ongoing project, Rutgers University has digitized dozens of Edison’s original diaries, which include many original sketches and descriptions of devices that we use today.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the early drawings and their practical applications now.
Edison's automatic telegraph, invented between 1870 and 1874, would transmit messages at 60-120 words per minute, three times faster than hand operators. There was a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter that could operate at 35 words per minute.
Edison maximized profits for Western Union, who hired him in 1872, by inventing the quadruplex telegraph. Edison's version combined the duplex and diplex versions to send two simultaneous messages in the same direction. This version was used well into the 20th century.
This is the actual completed automatic telegraph. His system was used for two years via the Automatic Telegraph Company and then for another two years through the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company.
Once Edison realised he could make carbon into a wire-like filament, he knew he could commercially produce an operable electric lamp, which he accomplished in October of 1879.
Towards the beginning of 1880, Edison began showing off his new invention to large crowds near his laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J. Shortly thereafter, he began selling his new electric lamps commercially. Now, of course, lamps are an integral part of nearly every American home.
In the mid 1880's, Edison designed an electrical generator and a power system to help light various buildings and machinery via various gas and electric motors. He set up his first central system on New York City's Pearl Street, which powered Wall St. and many area newspapers within a square mile.
Edison's direct current system was good in large urban areas, but he received competition from an alternating current system, which Edison did not adopt until 1891. One year later, Edison merged with his competitor to create General Electric.
Edison was looking for new ways to produce electricity, and found it in the 1880's with oxidyzable fuel that would produce an ionized gas from either a metal or carbon in reaction. Patents were filed in both 1882 and 1883.
Today, fuel cells come in numerous forms to power vehicles, including hydrogen and electric cells to efficiently power cars and trucks with minimal pollution to help the environment while getting where you want to go.
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