Inventing Clean Technologies
Intellectual Property and the Environment series
Introduction: The Wizards of Menlo Park: Thomas Edison, General Electric Inc. and Ecomagination
Introduction: the wizards of Menlo Park – Thomas Edison, General Electric Inc. and Ecomagination I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent. Thomas Edison1 One lingered long among the dynamos, for they were knew, and they gave to history a new phase. Henry Adams2 Edison’s vision, Uncle liked to say, of light for the masses had finally come true in the incandescent bulb. If someone could look at the earth from outer space, see how it rotated every twenty-four hours into the shadow of night, they would see millions, hundreds of millions, of incandescent bulbs light up nightly, glowing with white-hot tungsten, in the folds of that shadow – and know that man had finally conquered the darkness. The incandescent bulb had done more to alter social habits, human lives, Uncle would say, than any other invention he could think of. Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten3 In a nostalgic, sentimental way, the United States Patent and Trademark Office paid tribute to Thomas Edison – inventor, entrepreneur, and patent applicant: Edison’s inventions have been a mainstay of our economy for over 100 years. At the turn of the 20th century, Edison’s New Jersey laboratory (now a national monument), was the hub around which factories employing 5,000 people produced new products, including the mimeograph, the fluoroscope, the alkaline storage battery, dictating machines, and motion picture cameras and Quoted in Carr, Nicholas (2009), The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google, New York and London: W.W. Norton. 2 Ibid. 3...