Thursday, April 11, 2013

History Book Review: The Age of Edison

University of Tennessee historian Ernest Freeberg recounts the story of Thomas Edison’s light bulb invention and how it revolutionized the world, illuminating cities and expanding workdays, invigorating new industries and changing the way people the world over live their lives.

It is also the story of how Edison single-handedly (and this may be his greatest invention) came up with a new style of inventing, using a coordinated program of scientific research and product development that systematically solves problems and pragmatically develops products to market.

While Edison is credited with inventing the incandescent light bulb, this book makes clear that it was a collective achievement. Edison and his fellow inventors created a technology with transformative applications far beyond their dreams, from billboards and night clubs and amusement parks to hospials and highways and factories.

Freeberg's history helps us imagine a time, not so long ago, when "a light to hold the night at bay" was an awesome wonder, offering "liberation from one of the primordial limits imposed by nature on the human will."

Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America
by Ernest Freeberg
Penguin Press, 2013
Continued in Out of the Past

The Book Stall
Out of the Past
History and American West Titles
Artwork: Thomas Edison with the first light bulbs