... Why Do We Love Him So Much?
Working sleepless hours in his lab, Edison made a light bulb that could be produced for the masses. Finally, people were able to stay awake late enough to watch The Tonight Show. His numerous patents changed human life and inspired this really creepy memorial page.
But He Was Actually a Total Jerk Because ...
He had a fondness for electrocuting animals.
Thomas Edison popularized and "sold" direct current for electric power. In what was probably the nerdiest battle in history, Edison got into it with George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla in what was dubbed the "War of Currents." Judging solely by the name, one might think these men battled with strange devices that shot electricity at each other. But no, instead Edison toured the country using his competitor's "alternating current" to electrocute animals. In a famous video that is in absolutely no way safe for work at all, Edison electrocuted an adorable elephant named "Topsy."
Edison was propelled by furious rage coming from the fact that Tesla had once been Edison's employee but left because Edison didn't understand Tesla's alternating current experiments. In fact, the reason Tesla left was because Edison had promised him $50,000 but reneged on the deal. To get him back, Tesla harnessed Niagara Falls to produce alternating current, proving he had the superior electricity. Alternating current is now standard in American homes today and is never involved in accidental elephant deaths.
In addition to all this dickery, Edison also had film technicians steal copies of the groundbreaking film Le Voyage dans la lune. Edison distributed the bootlegs for a tidy profit, while the revolutionary director was left bankrupt, with no way to return his significant investments. It takes a lot to look like a jerk by Hollywood standards, but Edison definitely fit the bill. ...
... read the rest here: 6 beloved scientists who were actually total jerks | Blastr.
Did Edison invent the light blub? No.
in 1809, the English chemist, Sir Humphrey Davy, probably best known for his discovery of the anesthetic effects of nitrous oxide, invented the first incandescent light. Instead of employing a filament like the Edison lamp, it employed two carbon strip separated by a tiny gap. When connected to a powerful battery an electric arc spanned the gap producing a very powerful and intense light source. Based on this discovery, Davy invented the first Miner’s safety lamp in 1815. His miner’s safety lamp that allowed miners to work safely in deep mines filled with methane and other highly explosive gasses was called the “firedamp” or “minedamp” lamp. The first street lamps and movie projectors employed carbon arc lamps.
The next giant step on the road to the Edison lamp came in 1850 when another English scientist and inventor, Edward G. Shepard began experimenting with carbon filaments. In the same year, Joseph Wilson Swan started experimenting carbonized paper filaments. Using carbon as a filament was a major discovery and it was that discovery that later led to Edison’s success.
Many other men dedicated their lives to inventing a practical light bulb. Men like William Robert Grove, Frederik De Moleyns, W.E. Staite, John Daper, Heinrich Gobel, C. DeChagny, John T. Way, and Alexander D. Lodyguine, but the big breakthrough came in 1879 when both Joseph Wilson Swann and Thomas Alvin Edison both produced lamps that burned for 13.5 hours straight. Success finally arrived for Thomas Alvin Edison in 1880, when he discovered that by using carbonized bamboo as a filament he could produce a lamp that would last for 1200 hours. That was a reasonable life span. The electric light had finally become practical.
Not much change took place in the basic Edison Lamp for the next 26 years. Then, in 1906 General Electric introduced the Tungsten Filament to the incandescent light bulb.