One of the World's Greatest Innovators: Exploring Thomas Edison's Laboratory

in edison •  last year

My dad has been a self-employed electrician for many years, and he has always liked to tinker with all kinds of electronics and gadgets. He's definitely one of the reasons that I got into science and engineering in the first place. He is also probably one of the world's biggest fans of Thomas Edison.

Recently, my dad was in town for my graduation, and it also happened to be his birthday, so we decided to make the one hour drive to check out Thomas Edison's laboratory. Technically the lab is a national park at this point, so it was a little bit interesting to see park rangers walking around the lab. This post represents a small sampling of the pictures I took throughout the lab :)


My dad and I at the Park entrance.


Collection of Edison's phonographs: precursors to the digital world of music :)


Recording telegraph, 1877. This predates the phonograph. It recorded incoming telegraph messages by indenting code signals on a paper disc.


The first phonograph, 1877. The first time anyone ever recorded sound and played it back was when Edison used this machine to record "Mary had a little lamb."


Earliest known Edison wax cylinder phonograph, 1887.


Water-powered phonograph, 1890.


Kinetophone sound film system, 1913. The kinetophone attempted to synchronize recorded sound with motion pictures. A projector at the back of the theater was connected by pulley to a phonograph at the front with operators communicating by intercom, but it proved too complicated for most theater owners to operate.


Photography equipment from Edison's Photo Department.


Workstations from Edison's Photo Department.


Photography supplies and chemicals.


Miscellaneous supplies.


It wouldn't be Thomas Edison's lab without various electrical instruments and meters.


Parts and tools used to assemble a machine gun.


More gun tools. Edison helped to innovate tools and weapons for battle.


A model of a magnetic rail gun.


A talking doll. One of Edison's first attempts to market the phonograph was as a simple novelty to amuse children. He later admitted that "the voices of the little monsters were exceedingly unpleasant to hear." LOL


A VERY old-school mechanical calculator.


One of Edison's experimental light bulbs.


Classic Underwood typewriter used in the lab.


Edicraft made many different appliances for home use, including this Siphonator (drip coffee maker).


Edicraft Waffle Baker, 1928-1935.


The "Menlo" siphonator model.


Edicraft electric irons.


Edicraft Speed Toaster (right) and Junior Toaster (left).


Fireside Phonograph with 4-minute cylinder reproducer, circa 1909.


Drafting tables.


Room 12: Edison's private lab space.


The main machine shop floor.


Edison used an ingenious pulley system to power the machine shop. Two large electric motors power the drive shafts on the system, which can be used to power all of the machines in the shop just by engaging the belt drives.


One of Edison's lathes (I think).


More machine shop space.


A better view of how the pulley system works.


Panorama of the machine shop floor (with my family in the background, lol).


Plate (Disc) Phongraph invented by Thomas Edison in Menlo Park in early 1878.


Another view of the pulley system.


Edison's private elevator.


I can't get over this pulley system.... :p


More machine shop space.


The heavy-duty drive motors for the pulley system.


More machines.


Another lathe.


Even MORE machine shop space!


Coat rack where workers kept their hats and lunch tins.


Portrait of Edison with a cylinder phonograph in his private study.


Three-story private library/study for Edison.


Statue in Edison's study.


A prayer written by Edison's son, Charles, after the passing of his father, Thomas A. Edison, and read at Mr. Edison's funeral.

Edison's desk in his private study.


The chemistry lab (I think).


Outside view of the main laboratory building.


The blacksmith shop for the lab.


Recording studio for the lab. The entire studio can rotate to capture the sunlight at the proper angle through the roof.

I hope this was at least a little interesting to you. Technology is moving so fast these days, it's nice to slow down and think about some of the past innovators that helped lead us to this point.

Best,
Trogdor :)

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Not been here before but I'll plan a vist there one day. Thanks for the photos!

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Thanks for reading!

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Saludos desde Venezuela 😘@trogdor

If you ever find yourself in Michigan you would really enjoy checking out Greenfield Village. Henry Ford moved some original Menlo park buildings and equipment to this site to recreate it exactly as Edison remembered it.

https://www.thehenryford.org/explore/inside/edison-at-work/

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Awesome! Thanks for the tip. I think my dad told me he has been there before. I'll have to take a trip there when I'm visiting my family in Indiana.

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If you enjoy history its a fantastic visit. Henry Ford collected buildings from all around the country (the wright brothers home they were born in, Edison stuff, etc..) and moved them all to Dearborn Michigan and set up a massive village.

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Nice, I'm also a huge fan of the Wright brothers. I'll definitely have to get there some time.

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Greenfield Village is a standard field trip for school kids to this day in Michigan.

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Indeed, I recall going many times between 5th-8th grade

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It seemed like there was always something new to learn there. I really enjoyed watching the glass blowers and Blacksmiths work there.

Magnificent that this has been preserved and is being diplayed to the public. Not gqthering dust in some basement.

I hope neibouring schools visit. It would inspire pupils more than textbooks ever could. Great post. Thanks

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Thanks! I definitely agree. I wish I could have gone there when I was a student for a class trip.

Amazing! Thanks for sharing and good luck again!

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Thanks for reading!

As a kid, we went there every year with the cub scouts. Brought back a lot of memories. Thanks for sharing.

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Awesome! I wish I could have gone as a kid.

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I grew up four miles from the museum.

Awesome, impressive...
thank you for discovering this museum-lab : )
I did not know it existed : O
Thank you very much for showing us this marvel.
Best regards.

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Thanks! There are definitely a lot of interesting things to see there :)

Great post @trogdor, really very highly appreciated.

Awesome! Gained a new follower.

Hi, I liked the article, especially the lab photos.

but when looking at it I ask a question that I do not understand for longer than I have been here (I've been here since 2016) and seen a post where when they put images that are not their own creation they put the source to each one of those images, it's a job exhausting when they are many but it is supposed to do so because it is frowned upon by the community and because the bot geopardo can come to remind us of the importance of that, but I see post like this and many others where the sources are not set and it does not happen nothing, I still do not know when to put the sources and when it is not necessary, is there someone who has 2 minutes to explain it well?
thank you very much

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Hey, thanks for your comment. If you use photos that you took with your own camera or pictures that you own, you don't need to say where they are from. If you use a picture that you found somewhere on line, you can include it in your post (if you have the rights to do so), and then you should put a statement about where you got the pictures.

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that is to say to put any image found online I have to have the rights? not only is it worth putting the source ?, well then I've been doing that wrong!
I do not know what the repercussions may be, and the images that I have collected from the network simply put them in the source thinking that this would be enough to give credit to the author.

Anyway I still have doubts for example with the videos what happens with a music video that is perfectly known all over the world ?, for example madonna if I put a linked music video from youtube, would I necessarily have to put the link? or is it understood that is YouTube and is Madonna? Sometimes these things of copyright, copyrights and plagiarism are a bit complicated.

thanks for your time

Very fascinating. I'd love to visit this museum sometime, as I'm a 'thing' enthusiast, as in those meters, etc. Have a few of those in brass, actually.
Can you imagine that machine shop in full use, belts winging around at full speed. Have to really watch your coatsleeve in that place, and no neckties.
Thanks for sharing a great day out with your Dad. Very enjoyable read.

These are awesome pictures! I would love to visit this museum someday, I love history and inventors. Who would have thought a Magnetic Rail Gun right? I wanted to take the chance to say thank you for your support as well. I will be reading your posts when time permits. I will not pretend to understand most of the Blockchain stuff but I will attempt to get through it. Thank you for this post, good pictures too, good eye.

Awesome . i love electricity being an electrician myself although i am more of a Nikola Tesla fan. have a look at the documentary shock and awe, the story of electricity by Professor Jim Al-Khalili. A very good watch indeed.

I love to look at these things. I seem to come back in time at the same time and feel quite different emotions. Wonderful post :)
And by the way, suddenly I found out on one of the photos a typewriter that my grandfather had. Even a couple of years ago it still worked. And there is something special about this.

Nice and interesting photos. Why do you don't post more? I like your content (;
By the way, where are you from?

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Hi thanks. I'm just really busy these days so I don't have a lot of time to put on making big posts. Hopefully I will get back into it sometime soon. BTW I'm from Indiana.

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It's good to know that I'll see you post again soon, greetings and hugs from Venezuela. I'll be following your content closely <3

My husband and I visited this museum awhile ago. It felt like walking through a time portal. My husband used to be a big fan of Edison, but switched to Ford and then Tesla before he died. He was a jack of all trades and self made inventor himself. This post brought back some good memories. Thanks.

Really cool... But more of a tesla fan 😎

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if I prefer infinitely more to Tesla