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.
For some time past it has been used for photography and some special experiments on motion pictures as well as for demonstrations connected with physical research; but some reminders of its old-time glory still remain in evidence. In lofty and capacious glass-enclosed cabinets, in company with numerous models of Edison's inventions, repose many of the costly and elaborate instruments rendered useless by the ubiquitous trolley. Instruments are all about, on walls, tables, and shelves, the photometer is covered up; induction coils of various capacities, with other electrical paraphernalia, lie around, almost as if the experimenter were absent for a few days but would soon return and resume his work.
In numbering the group of buildings, the galva- nometer-room is No. 1, while the other single-story structures are numbered respectively 2, 3, and 4. On passing out of No. 1 and proceeding to the succeeding building is noticed, between the two, a garage of ample dimensions and a smaller structure, at the door of which stands a concrete-mixer. In this small building Edison has made some of his most important experiments in the process of working out his plans for the poured house. It is in this little place that there was developed the remarkable mixture which is to play so vital a part in the successful construction of these everlasting homes for living millions.
Drawing near to building No. 2, olfactory evidence presents itself of the immediate vicinity of a chemical laboratory. This is confirmed as one enters the door and finds that the entire building is devoted to chemistry. Long rows of shelves and cabinets filled with chemicals line the room; a profusion of retorts, alembics, filters, and other chemical apparatus on numerous tables and stands, greet the eye, while a corps of experimenters may be seen busy in the preparation of various combinations, some of which are boiling or otherwise cooking under their dexterous manipulation.
It would not require many visits to discover that in this room, also, Edison has a favorite nook. Down at the far end in a corner are a plain little table and chair, and here he is often to be found deeply immersed in a study of the many experiments that are being conducted. Not infrequently he is actively engaged in the manipulation of some compound of special intricacy, whose results might be illuminative of obscure facts not patent to others than himself. Here, too, is a select little library of chemical literature.
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