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204/365 – Thomas “The A-Hole” Edison
© 2012 Timmy Tamisiea. All rights reserved. . . . nd his huge balls.

204/365 – Thomas “The A-Hole” Edison

Most people who haven’t taken cinema history probably think Edison was a genius and a great guy.  They probably think he was a real looker too.  The passion dream of every 16 year old . . . smart, savy and cute . . . oh Edison – swoon!

Any man who sits with his legs that wide must have huge “feet”.

Listen, the guy invented the phonograph, the light bulb and motion pictures!  He must be great.  Wrong.  More than an investor, Edison was a shrewd businessman . . . and by shrewd, I mean an asshole.  Of course, these days, asshole businessman is redundant.

Trump agrees with me . . . passionately agrees with me.

If Edison was anything, he was a great public manipulator and brilliant at patents.  He led many smear campaigns against his rival (Tesla) and ran a sweat shop think tank of intellectuals who thought of ideas that, because of contracts, were deemed his property.  How much of a jerk was Edison?  Well, first, let’s change the word “jerk” to “bully” and then you’ll understand.  Edison stole, cheated and basically ripped off anyone who was better than him.  These days, this is pretty well known — Christopher Nolan sure helped to explain this in his film The Prestige.  Just how far did Edison go to corrupt and exploit the copy writes and ideas of his rivals . . . shy of an evil genius, he went pretty far.

Shhhhh, Dr. Evil. It’s only Edison. He’s dead now. He can’t hurt you anymore.

Edison was quoted as saying, “Keep on the lookout for novel ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you’re working on.”  He’s basically condoning the theft of intellectual property and then tweaking it to make it yours.  The list of inventions he stole is extensive . . . this is a list from a Yahoo Answers page, but still . . .

1. The Electric Bulb or Incandescent Lamp
2. The Electric Chair
3. The Movie Camera
4. The Power Generator
5. X-Ray Photographs (fluoroscope)
6. The Storage Battery
7. The Record Player
8. Wax Paper
9. The Telegraph

He also invented the Terminator, but don’t tell Cyberdyne.

Not convinced . . . try this on for size.  In 1902, French filmmaker, Georges Méliès, made the film a Trip To The Moon.  It is one of the most famous and inventive films of the early silent era.  The image of a rocket ship crash landing into the moon’s eye has been parodied by numerous contemporary films.  The film cost Melies everything he had, and while it was immensely popular in Europe, it was not making him his money back.  His plan was to take it to America and make back his money there.  Enter Edison . . .

. . . nd his huge balls.

Edison bribed a London theatre owner for a copy of the film.  He then brought it to America and made numerous copies.  In a move that pre-dates internet piracy, he distributed it to US theaters and made a large chunk of change, never once paying Melies royalties.  Melies was set to make the trip to the US but then found out that everyone in America had seen it.  This ultimately finished Melies financially.

This is par for the course for Edison.  I mean, look at Nikola Tesla; the genius who invented alternating current as opposed to Edison’s direct current.  Tesla was working with Edison to create a medium of electricity.  At one point, it’s rumored, that Telsa wanted his wages from Edison to which he was thrown out and fired.  Edison called to him, “Welcome to America.”  Then, when Tesla created AC (a free source of energy) while Edison was perfecting DC (what we use today – thanks ComEd!) he decided to electrocute an Elephant in public and claim it was AC that did it – how dangerous!

You should also add lazy to the list of adjectives that describe Tesla.  Beyond his thug like business practices – known for sending actual thugs to beat up competitors – he had no real scientific discipline.  He didn’t invent the light bulb, he perfected it by finding the right filament to mass produce it.  However, instead of scientifically approaching the light bulb, he just haphazardly used things around him till he found the right thing . . . the light bulb he invented was a fucking accident.

A pictorial metaphor for Edison’s scientific method.

I think, however, that this video is one of the funnest versions of teh Tesla/Edison rivalry.  Happy Sunday!





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