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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Thomas Edison Made History with Optical Phonograph in 1888

Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor whose discoveries (such as the phono-graph, the electric light bulb, etc.) changed the modern way of life. In October of 1888 he filed a patent for the Optical Phonograph (the first movie making device). He claimed, "It will do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear". So, Edison went down in history books for having created yet another marvel from which the world would benefit. And yet this is not entirely accurate.

Edison was the lord and master of his workshop, so he took the credit for everything manufactured under its roof. However, he was not always as enthusiastic about his ideas once he was distracted by the next great concept to grab his imagination. Because of the constant demand upon his attention he often delegated the continued advancement of a project to underlings. In this case, it was the endeavors of Edison's workers who propelled the advancement of the Optical Phonograph. The experiments his team did led to the invention of the Edison movie camera in 1891.

Although Edison did not work alone, and counted on many hard working contributors, it can be said that if it weren't for the so-called "Wizard of Menlo Park" we would not have movies as we know them today, let alone television, computers, or smartphones. The so-called gimmick once considered appealing only to children has grown from a nickel and dime attraction to a multi-billion dollar industry, reaching far across the globe and influencing people of all cultures everywhere. Thomas Edison would have expected no less from one of his own inventions.

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