Edison: His Life and Inventions HTML version

THE reader who has followed the foregoing narrative may feel that inasmuch as it is
intended to be an historical document, an appropriate addendum thereto would be a digest
of all the inventions of Edison. The desirability of such a digest is not to be denied, but as
there are some twenty-five hundred or more inventions to be considered (including those
covered by caveats), the task of its preparation would be stupendous. Besides, the
resultant data would extend this book into several additional volumes, thereby rendering
it of value chiefly to the technical student, but taking it beyond the bounds of biography.
We should, however, deem our presentation of Mr. Edison's work to be imperfectly
executed if we neglected to include an intelligible exposition of the broader theoretical
principles of his more important inventions. In the following Appendix we have therefore
endeavored to present a few brief statements regarding Mr. Edison's principal inventions,
classified as to subject- matter and explained in language as free from technicalities as is
possible. No attempt has been made to conform with strictly scientific terminology, but,
for the benefit of the general reader, well-understood conventional expressions, such as
"flow of current," etc., have been employed. It should be borne in mind that each of the
following items has been treated as a whole or class, generally speaking, and not as a
digest of all the individual patents relating to it. Any one who is sufficiently interested
can obtain copies of any of the patents referred to for five cents each by addressing the
Commissioner of Patents, Washington, D. C.
IN these modern days, when the Stock Ticker is in universal use, one seldom, if ever,
hears the name of Edison coupled with the little instrument whose chatterings have such
tremendous import to the whole world. It is of much interest, however, to remember the
fact that it was by reason of his notable work in connection with this device that he first
became known as an inventor. Indeed, it was through the intrinsic merits of his
improvements in stock tickers that he made his real entree into commercial life.
The idea of the ticker did not originate with Edison, as we have already seen in Chapter
VII of the preceding narrative, but at the time of his employment with the Western
Union, in Boston, in 1868, the crudities of the earlier forms made an impression on his
practical mind, and he got out an improved instrument of his own, which he introduced in
Boston through the aid of a professional promoter. Edison, then only twenty-one, had less
business experience than the promoter, through whose manipulation he soon lost his
financial interest in this early ticker enterprise. The narrative tells of his coming to New
York in 1869, and immediately plunging into the business of gold and stock reporting. It
was at this period that his real work on stock printers commenced, first individually, and