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eivind2610 t1_j47hyed wrote

He also used other people's inventions to electrocute and kill children's pets, as well as a freaking elephant, to 'prove' said inventions were dangerous (forgetting to mention that mostly anything can be dangerous if you specifically set out to make it dangerous).


Lost_vob t1_j490tij wrote

Neither of these things happened. These are both myths created by scammers and click bait websites to drive traffic. People love the "you didn't learn this is school" factoids. The problem is that 9 times out of 10 the reason you didn't learn it in school is cause it's not true lol.


jackinsomniac t1_j49ldwe wrote

What Edison did is create a huge "invention lab" with tons of new equipment, and a standing order to the library to automatically order any new books on science & technology, and have them delivered. It was state-of-the-art.

He created it for himself after some of his earlier inventions took off, and to invite other inventors to use it for free under one condition: Edison owns the rights to whatever you create with his lab, tools, & resources.

The thing is, if you're a programmer, engineer, architect, etc. this is 100% standard practice now: whatever you create on the company's time with company resources, the company owns. If that's "stealing", every single modern company does it today, and we don't even blink at it. Edison is mainly guilty of starting this practice.

He wasn't always that way either. He created his first invention as a teenager, and teamed up with a businessman to help him sell it. He didn't understand the paperwork, and unknowingly signed away all his rights to the new invention, and the businessman profited from his work while he got nothing. He swore that day, to never let it happen again. He realized the business angle of being an inventor is just as important.

He wasn't "just a thief". He was an inventor in his own right, and loved it. On his wedding night he didn't even go to bed to consummate the marriage, he returned to his shop to continue working. His own children regularly had to take his plate of dinner out to his shop, because he wouldn't sit down at the table to eat with his family. Sounds like a guy who actually loves the craft to me.


Lost_vob t1_j49n8yv wrote

Someone once said "Edison's greatest invention was the conception of the commercial lab." That's pretty accurate, though I think Bell had one himself too.


jackinsomniac t1_j49nx94 wrote

It really was a mini-Renaissance for technology during those times. The reason Tesla, Edison, & Bell lived around the same time, was because the powers of electricity were still being discovered, and people realized there's a whole slew of new inventions we could now create with it. They were all smart guys, but also, "born in the right place at the right time."


Lost_vob t1_j49ozqq wrote

Definitely right time. It was a time when humanity broke free from a bottleneck in progress. Several breakthroughs at once branched off into a huge world of possibilities previously inaccessible. Transit, communication, electricity, all hit the world at once. It is a fascinating time. A "Dawning of a new age" kind of time.


FirstSynapse t1_j4b3t2k wrote

> The thing is, if you're a programmer, engineer, architect, etc. this is 100% standard practice now: whatever you create on the company's time with company resources, the company owns. If that's "stealing", every single modern company does it today, and we don't even blink at it.

There is an important difference you're not mentioning. Companies don't just allow people to create things for free using the company's resources. Companies HIRE those workers and pay them a salary to do so. What you describe Edison did is a predatory practice to attract passionate people who have limited funds. If the rights of the inventions were shared by both parties, it would be a different story, as in one provides the resources and the other provides the time, work and ideas and then both own a portion of the patent. If he hired them, then he would provide compensation for that work in hopes they would produce something useful for him to recover that investment. But why would anyone in their right mind work for free just to have everything they create out of passion taken away from them benefited from by a greedy businessman?


[deleted] t1_j4alpqi wrote



Lost_vob t1_j4am6mw wrote

The wired article has no sources because it's total bullshit. Did you read your wiki article? From your wiki page:

>"In popular culture, Thompson and Dundy's killing of Topsy has switched attribution, with claims it was an anti-alternating current demonstration organized by Thomas A. Edison during the war of the currents. Edison was never at Luna Park and the electrocution of Topsy took place ten years after the war of currents."

Blaming Edison for Topsy's death is an insult to her memory and a slap in the face to animals across the globe facing unethical treatment at the hands of their handlers for the entertainment of humanity. THAT is the true take away here.


eivind2610 t1_j4baf00 wrote

I specified in a different comment, which you seemingly didn't read. I believed this to be true, but read up on it after my initial comment, and found out a bit more about what actually happened.


The elephant thing was only indirectly related to him - not false, but not completely true either. The elephant was indeed electocuted, and someone from Edison's company was invited as essentially "guests of honor" to watch the electrocution. They filmed the event, which I believe is considered the first filmed execution of an animal, and the film was dedicated to Thomas Edison - which, you know, even that is a pretty messed up thing to do.

As for the pets: He didn't personally electrocute them, but he actively backed and supported a campaign that paid kids a quarter for pets and small animals - "coinciding" with a streak of missing pets in the area - only to use DC power to torture them, then AC power to kill them. Again: He didn't personally flip the switch... but he provided the equipment and the resources needed, and actively supported what they were doing.


Lost_vob t1_j4bkzzz wrote

Edison's hadn't has anything to do with "Edison Electric" or the electrical industry for over a decade at this point. The only connection is that a group of journalist were invited to the press conference of the event, one of which was one of Edison film crews.

What historical source material do you have about this "streak of missing pets"? I can't find any evidence outside of unsourced clickbait.


eivind2610 t1_j4bxhfo wrote

The more accurate claim would be that he paid 'youngsters' a quarter for "live cats and dogs", and didn't ask any questions in regards to where they came from. He may very well have intended for them to catch strays, but the youngsters probably only went "oooh, a quarter", and sold him any animals they could get their hands on. This is backed by several sources, including the "secretary of of historical research" at the Thomas A. Edison laboratory in West Orange, who had direct access to the research papers, and wrote a book that covered it. According to what I've been reading for the past while, I get the impression that this is stuff Edison and his team did, themselves - not this campaign I mentioned previously. So he might've been more involved than I thought!

As for the elephant: Yes, it's true that Edison hadn't been personally involved in this for a while when it happened. Which I have agreed with several times. Hence why I stated that he was only indirectly involved; having a film crew from his company dedicate the film of an animals execution to him personally is absolutely indirect involvement, whether or not he was in charge of the company at the time.


HappyHighwayman t1_j47it5o wrote

I saw that bob's burgers episode, unfortunately it's factually incorrect (in regards to the elephant).


eivind2610 t1_j482ptv wrote

Yes, after reading up on it over the last couple of hours, just for fun, I found out something similar. The elephant was apparently already scheduled for "execution", and the method of using electrocution to kill it was only decided after they received backlash for planning to hang it (somehow?). The event was, however, filmed by the Edison company, and the film was credited to Edison himself - which is still a pretty messed up thing to do! Either way, the Topsy song from Bob's Burgers is incredibly catchy :)

The part about pets is still factual, though; he actively backed and supported a campaign which paid kids a quarter for pets - be it their own or ones they'd stolen from their neighbourhoods - and then used them as a demonstration to 'prove' the dangers of AC power. In fact, they would first use DC power to torture the animals, only to then switch to AC power to kill them. Still barely scratches the surface of the messed up stuff he did, of course.


Lost_vob t1_j491fsw wrote

He got all his animals from the SPCA, not local kids. They hired him to explore the idea of using electrocution as a humane form of euthanasia. Interesting enough he was later hired by the system of new york to research is this were true for the death penalty. It had nothing to do with the current wars.

I mean, it logically makes no sense. Why tf would he pay money for pets when he can get truckloads for strays who were running the street reeking havok for free? This is just a bogus story created to make him sound like a psychopath.


Beavertoni t1_j4a1s20 wrote

How do you hang an elephant?


eivind2610 t1_j4baj1n wrote

That is an excellent question, and I was wondering the same thing when I read it! The article didn't specify.