The Edison Effect

Edison’s Birthplace and sole remaining descendant in Milan Ohio 1985

My new home and studio in New Jersey is just down the street from Thomas Edison’s mansion and a few blocks away is his laboratory and factory complex – now a National Park. I was thrilled to be able to volunteer there. Back in 1985 I photographed Edison’s birthplace and his only surviving relative in Milan Ohio for my Oddyssey project! Thomas Edison seemed to still occupy his West Orange office and home even though he died in 1931. (Actually he is still there – buried in the backyard!)  I learned a lot about the man, his efforts and the story of his discoveries and his inventing process. While he is best known for the light bulb, motion pictures and sound recording perhaps his greatest invention was the research and development laboratory. He invented the idea of an invention factory. He was a true experimenter who didn’t believe in failure. He said every failure taught him one more thing that did not work. He wasn’t afraid to fail and he embraced experimentation and learning. Without knowing it I had followed his advice. Just try your idea and see where it leads. Find out what works by learning from what doesn’t work.