Cover image for Working at inventing : Thomas A. Edison and the Menlo Park experience
Working at inventing : Thomas A. Edison and the Menlo Park experience
Pretzer, William S.
Johns Hopkins Paperbacks edition.
Publication Information:
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
141 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Dearborn, Mich. : Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, 1989.
Corporate Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
T178.M46 W67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Working at Inventing offers a fascinating study of research and development at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park (New Jersey) laboratory during the six years between 1876 and 1882 that transformed American life. Edison and his associates developed ideas that led to more than four hundred patents and made major contributions to telegraphy, telephony, and the duplication of texts. They also made breakthrough innovations in two age-old human quests: conquering the darkness of night and preserving and replaying sound. In the process, Edison demonstrated how to combine technological innovation and business strategy. Afterward, research and development became essential corporate activities.

Six experts on Edison's work deal in turn with the working conditions and the experiences at Menlo Park; the work culture of machinists and their impact on innovation; the role that telegraphy played in forming the lab's inventive activities; Edison's use of mental models in developing the telephone; the importance of visual communication in technology; and the significance of Menlo Park as a model of scientific and technological development. William Pretzer's introduction to the volume provides the context of Edison's career, while an epilogue explains the public interpretation of the Menlo Park laboratory as reconstructed by Henry Ford in his outdoor museum, Greenfield Village.

Author Notes

William S. Pretzer, curator at the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, has published numerous articles on museum studies, technology education, design history, and the history of labor and technology in the printing trade and has served as exhibits review editor for Technology and Culture since 1995

Table of Contents

Harold K. Skramstad, Jr.William S. PretzerBernard S. FinnAndre MillardPaul IsraelW. Bernard Carlson and Michael E. GormanEdward Jay PersheyDavid A. HounshellWilliam S. Pretzer
Preface to the Johns Hopkins Editionp. 4
Preface to the Original Editionp. 6
Acknowledgmentsp. 8
Chronology of Thomas Alva Edison's Lifep. 9
Introduction: The Meanings of the Two Menlo Parksp. 12
Working at Menlo Parkp. 32
Machine Shop Culture and Menlo Parkp. 48
Telegraphy and Edison's Invention Factoryp. 66
Thinking and Doing at Menlo Park: Edison's Development of the Telephone, 1876-1878p. 84
Drawing as a Means to Inventing: Edison and the Invention of the Phonographp. 100
The Modernity of Menlo Parkp. 116
Epiloguep. 134
Name Indexp. 138
The Contributorsp. 140
Photo Sources and Creditsp. 142