Biographical Note on Thomas Edison
Over the desk at his Laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Edison kept
the quotation: “Success is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine
percent perspiration”. He never lost sight of the fact that thought must
be married to action in order to produce results. The “result” was
one of America’s most prolific inventors, a man who produced a phenomenal
outpouring of scientific patents, business acumen, productivity and
ground breaking innovation. From the Stock Market ticker, which
mobilized the efficiency of American Stock Markets, to his favorite
invention, the phonograph; from the incandescent light to the motion
picture camera, Edison remains an icon of the American Dream. Modern
life would be unrecognizable without him.
Edison was a man of business. After inventing an Electric Vote Counter
(again way ahead of his time!) which did not sell, he created a business
invention - the stock ticker, which he developed in 1870. He sold it to
a Wall Street firm for $40,000,
a fortune at the time. He then invented
the electric light and commercialized the era of electricity. By the
time he wrote this letter, numerous generators were in place around the
country and many businesses were already wired. Edison also invented a
mimeograph machine, giving businesses the first break from the necessity
of having all copies made by hand. By 1898 Bell had invented the
telephone and Thomas Oliver the first practical typewriter; both were
coming into common use by business. Those were the big business-oriented
advances Edison knew of on March 24, 1898. The automobile was not yet
available to the public and aviation was still considered a pipe dream.
Radio and television, such crucial advertising mediums, were a few
decades away. Basic business machines such as Dictaphones, electric
typewriters and copiers were between a quarter and a half century off.
But Edison anticipated this too by utilizing “phonographic dictation”
in this letter.
1 page Letter – Signed and Dated: March 24, 1898
Text as Follows:
From the Laboratory
“Edison, New York”
Thomas A. Edison
Orange, N.J. M[ar]ch 24th 1898
Charles Haase Esq. Secy.
Elmira Free Academy
I am pleased to learn that you have formed a scientific society.
Science in the coming years will rule the world of business.
Thomas A Edison [signature]
Thomas Edison was the architect of
Modern America. His 1,093 inventions were impressive, even more was his
dedication to finding practical applications and improvements for his
ideas. He firmly believed that Science had a duty to further the
Enlightenment and Progress of Humanity. This letter is a fantastic
example of his earnest desire to foster Scientific Knowledge and
Scientific Societies as he firmly believed that Science was the key to
the future. As a successful businessman he understood that advancing
technologies were the lynchpin to a dominant economy; innovation drove
efficiency, efficiency drove business.
Instant communications via fax and cell phone were in the distant
future. The invention that has revolutionized business and makes
Edison's prediction absolutely true, the modern computer, was 50 years
away from its birth and 80 years away from its widespread use in
business. The Internet was nearly beyond imagining. Edison predicted
that science would "rule the world of business” not merely impact it.
The crucial inventions that would mark the 20th century were unknown to
him when he made the prediction. As the 21st Century dawns, we can see
that he was right. I'm sure he and Andy Grove or Gordon Moore would have quite a
conversation about our new century.
Document Specifications: Very Fine Document on Batonne Laid Paper
written and signed by "Thomas Edison" and dated "Orange, N.J. March 24th
1898". Document measures approximately 8 1/4w x 5 1/2h inches (21 x 14
centimeters). Manuscript is 1 page and notes on first page in Red Type
that it is a "PHONOGRAPH DICTATION", it has a printed letterhead that
notes: "Cable Address 'Edison, New York.'" and "From the Laboratory of
Thomas A. Edison". Addressed to Charles Haase Esq. Secretary of the
Elmira Free Academy. Two vertical original file folds, very slightly
stained, and a small hole upper left, none affecting signature.
Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.
Member: APS, BNAPS, CCNY, ICSC, DMSC & SPHS
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