On this same floor is the vacuum-pump room with a glass-blowers' room adjoining, both of them historic by reason of the strenuous work done on incandescent lamps and X-ray tubes within their walls. The tools and appliances are kept intact, for Edison calls occasionally for their use in some of his later experiments, and there is a suspicion among the laboratory staff that some day he may resume work on incandescent lamps. Adjacent to these rooms are several others devoted to physical and mechanical experiments, together with a draughting-room.
Last to be mentioned, but the first in order as one leaves the head of the stairs leading up to this floor, is No. 12, Edison's favorite room, where he will frequently be found. Plain of aspect, being merely a space boarded off with tongued-and-grooved planks--as all the other rooms are--without ornament or floor covering, and containing only a few articles of cheap furniture, this room seems to exercise a nameless charm for him. The door is always open, and often he can be seen seated at a plain table in the centre of the room, deeply intent on some of the numerous problems in which he is interested. The table is usually pretty well filled with specimens or data of experimental results which have been put there for his examination. At the time of this writing these specimens consist largely of sections of positive elements of the storage battery, together with many samples of nickel hydrate, to which Edison devotes deep study. Close at hand is a microscope which is in frequent use by him in these investigations. Around the room, on shelves, are hundreds of bottles each containing a small quantity of nickel hydrate made in as many different ways, each labelled correspondingly. Always at hand will be found one or two of the laboratory note-books, with frequent entries or comments in the handwriting which once seen is never forgotten.
No. 12 is at times a chemical, a physical, or a mechanical room--occasionally a combination of all, while sometimes it might be called a consultation- room or clinic--for often Edison may be seen there in animated conference with a group of his assistants; but its chief distinction lies in its being one of his favorite haunts, and in the fact that within its walls have been settled many of the perplexing problems and momentous questions that have brought about great changes in electrical and engineering arts during the twenty-odd years that have elapsed since the Orange laboratory was built.
Passing now to the top floor the visitor finds himself at the head of a broad hall running almost the entire length of the building, and lined mostly with glass-fronted cabinets containing a multitude of experimental incandescent lamps and an immense variety of models of phonographs, motors, telegraph and telephone apparatus, meters, and a host of other inventions upon which Edison's energies have at one time and another been bent. Here also are other cabinets containing old papers and records, while further along the wall are piled up boxes of historical models and instruments. In fact, this hallway, with its conglomerate contents, may well be considered a scientific attic. It is to be hoped that at no distant day these Edisoniana will be assembled and arranged in a fireproof museum for the benefit of posterity.
In the front end of the building, and extending over the library, is a large room intended originally and used for a time as the phonograph music-hall for record-making, but now used only as an experimental- room for phonograph work, as the growth of the industry has necessitated a very much larger and more central place where records can be made on a commercial scale. Even the experimental work imposes no slight burden on it. On each side of the hallway above mentioned, rooms are partitioned off and used for experimental work of various kinds, mostly phonographic, although on this floor are also located the storage-battery testing-room, a chemical and physical room and Edison's private office, where all his personal correspondence and business affairs are conducted by his personal secretary, Mr. H. F. Miller. A visitor to this upper floor of the laboratory building cannot but be impressed with a consciousness of the incessant efforts that are being made to improve the reproducing qualities of the phonograph, as he hears from all sides the sounds of vocal and instrumental music constantly varying in volume and timbre, due to changes in the experimental devices under trial.
The traditions of the laboratory include cots placed in many of the rooms of these upper floors, but that was in the earlier years when the strenuous scenes of Menlo Park were repeated in the new quarters. Edison and his closest associates were accustomed to carry their labors far into the wee sma' hours, and when physical nature demanded a respite from work, a short rest would be obtained by going to bed on a cot. One would naturally think that the wear and tear of this intense application, day after day and night after night, would have tended to induce a heaviness and gravity of demeanor in these busy men; but on the contrary, the old spirit of good- humor and prankishness was ever present, as its fre- quent outbursts manifested from time to time. One instance will serve as an illustration. One morning, about 2.30, the late Charles Batchelor announced that he was tired and would go to bed. Leaving Edison and the others busily working, he went out and returned quietly in slippered feet, with his nightgown on, the handle of a feather duster stuck down his back with the feathers waving over his head, and his face marked. With unearthly howls and shrieks, a l'Indien, he pranced about the room, incidentally giving Edison a scare that made him jump up from his work. He saw the joke quickly, however, and joined in the general merriment caused by this prank.
Leaving the main building with its corps of busy experimenters, and coming out into the spacious yard, one notes the four long single-story brick structures mentioned above. The one nearest the Valley Road is called the galvanometer-room, and was originally intended by Edison to be used for the most delicate and minute electrical measurements. In order to provide rigid resting-places for the numerous and elaborate instruments he had purchased for this purpose, the building was equipped along three- quarters of its length with solid pillars, or tables, of brick set deep in the earth. These were built up to a height of about two and a half feet, and each was surmounted with a single heavy slab of black marble. A cement floor was laid, and every precaution was taken to render the building free from all magnetic influences, so that it would be suitable for electrical work of the utmost accuracy and precision. Hence, iron and steel were entirely eliminated in its con- struction, copper being used for fixtures for steam and water piping, and, indeed, for all other purposes where metal was employed.
This room was for many years the headquarters of Edison's able assistant, Dr. A. E. Kennelly, now professor of electrical engineering in Harvard University to whose energetic and capable management were intrusted many scientific investigations during his long sojourn at the laboratory. Unfortunately, however, for the continued success of Edison's elaborate plans, he had not been many years established in the laboratory before a trolley road through West Orange was projected and built, the line passing in front of the plant and within seventy-five feet of the galvanometer- room, thus making it practically impossible to use it for the delicate purposes for which it was originally intended.
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