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Power StrugglesScientific Authority and the Creation of Practical Electricity Before Edison$
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Michael Brian Schiffer

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262195829

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262195829.001.0001

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(p.299) 22 New Light
Power Struggles

Michael Brian Schiffer

The MIT Press

This chapter describes the invention of the electric bulb by Thomas Alva Edison. After the successful lighting project at Menlo Park, Edison also displayed a new invention, called a phonograph, which could record the human voice. However, the need for creating an electric lamp that could be used in every home continued to haunt him, because he could see that the dynamo-powered arc lights provided such a bright, blinding light that they were unsuitable for homes. Finally, Edison was able to invent the platinum bulb, which gave off a gentle light useful for homes. He also advocated the execution of death-row prisoners by means of an electric shock, a method that is much faster and less ghastly than death by hanging. Edison was a shrewd businessman who successfully advertised his inventions through newspapers so that they could catch the public’s attention.

Keywords:   Thomas Alva Edison, Menlo Park, phonograph, arc lights, platinum bulb, death sentence, newspapers

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