Difficulties are multiplied when we pause for a moment to think of Edison's influence on collateral branches of business. In the public mind he is credited with the invention of the incandescent electric light, the phonograph, and other widely known devices; but how few realize his actual influence on other trades that are not generally thought of in connection with these things. For instance, let us note what a prominent engine builder, the late Gardiner C. Sims, has said: "Watt, Corliss, and Porter brought forward steam-engines to a high state of proficiency, yet it remained for Mr. Edison to force better proportions, workmanship, designs, use of metals, regulation, the solving of the complex problems of high speed and endurance, and the successful development of the shaft governor. Mr. Edison is pre- eminent in the realm of engineering."
The phenomenal growth of the copper industry was due to a rapid and ever-increasing demand, owing to the exploitation of the telephone, electric light, electric motor, and electric railway industries. Without these there might never have been the romance of "Coppers" and the rise and fall of countless fortunes. And although one cannot estimate in definite figures the extent of Edison's influence in the enormous increase of copper production, it is to be remembered that his basic inventions constitute a most important factor in the demand for the metal. Besides, one must also give him the credit, as already noted, for having recognized the necessity for a pure quality of copper for electric conductors, and for his persistence in having compelled the manufacturers of that period to introduce new and additional methods of refinement so as to bring about that result, which is now a sine qua non.
Still considering his influence on other staples and collateral trades, let us enumerate briefly and in a general manner some of the more important and additional ones that have been not merely stimulated, but in many cases the business and sales have been directly increased and new arts established through the inventions of this one man--namely, iron, steel, brass, zinc, nickel, platinum ($5 per ounce in 1878, now $26 an ounce), rubber, oils, wax, bitumen, various chemical compounds, belting, boilers, injectors, structural steel, iron tubing, glass, silk, cotton, porcelain, fine woods, slate, marble, electrical measuring instruments, miscellaneous machinery, coal, wire, paper, building materials, sapphires, and many others.
The question before us is, To what extent has Edison added to the wealth of the world by his inventions and his energy and perseverance? It will be noted from the foregoing that no categorical answer can be offered to such a question, but sufficient material can be gathered from a statistical review of the commercial arts directly influenced to afford an approximate idea of the increase in national wealth that has been affected by or has come into being through the practical application of his ideas.
First of all, as to inventions capable of fairly definite estimate, let us mention the incandescent electric light and systems of distribution of electric light, heat, and power, which may justly be considered as the crowning inventions of Edison's life. Until October 21, 1879, there was nothing in existence resembling our modern incandescent lamp. On that date, as we have seen in a previous chapter, Edison's labors culminated in his invention of a practical incandescent electric lamp embodying absolutely all the essentials of the lamp of to-day, thus opening to the world the doors of a new art and industry. To-day there are in the United States more than 41,000,000 of these lamps, connected to existing central-station circuits in active operation.
Such circuits necessarily imply the existence of central stations with their equipment. Until the beginning of 1882 there were only a few arc-lighting stations in existence for the limited distribution of current. At the present time there are over 6000 central stations in this country for the distribution of electric current for light, heat, and power, with capital obligations amounting to not less than $1,000,000,000. Besides the above-named 41,000,000 incandescent lamps connected to their mains, there are about 500,000 arc lamps and 150,000 motors, using 750,000 horse-power, besides countless fan motors and electric heating and cooking appliances.
When it is stated that the gross earnings of these central stations approximate the sum of $225,000,000 yearly, the significant import of these statistics of an art that came so largely from Edison's laboratory about thirty years ago will undoubtedly be apparent.
But the above are not by any means all the facts relating to incandescent electric lighting in the United States, for in addition to central stations there are upward of 100,000 isolated or private plants in mills, factories, steamships, hotels, theatres, etc., owned by the persons or concerns who operate them. These plants represent an approximate investment of $500,000,000, and the connection of not less than 25,000,000 incandescent lamps or their equivalent.
Source of this article：http://axsox.zw775.com/html/962a098378.html
Copyright statement: The content of this article was voluntarily contributed by internet users, and the views expressed in this article only represent the author themselves. This website only provides information storage space services and does not hold any ownership or legal responsibility. If you find any suspected plagiarism, infringement, or illegal content on this website, please send an email to report it. Once verified, this website will be immediately deleted.