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The Papers of Thomas A. Edison

From Workshop to Laboratory, June 1873-March 1876

edited by Robert A. Roseberg, Paul B. Israel, Keith A. Nier, and Melodie Andrews

Publication Year: 1992

The third volume of this widely acclaimed series reveals the breath-taking intensity, intellectual acumen, and vast self-confidence of twenty-nine-year-old Thomas Edison. In the depths of the 1870s depression, he moved his independent research and development laboratory from industrial Newark to pastoral Menlo Park, some fifteen miles to the south on the main line of the railroad from New York to Philadelphia. There, equipped with resources for experimental development that were extraordinary for their time, Edison and a few close associates began twenty months of research that expanded their well-established accomplishments in telegraphy into pioneering work on the telephone. Edison's ideas and techniques from telegraph message recording and the telephone next led to his invention of the phonograph, the first patent for which was filed in December 1877. This invention ultimately gave Edison a world-wide reputation—and the nickname "the wizard of Menlo Park." Praise for previous volumes of The Papers of Thomas A. Edison: "The essence of the volume is Edison's technical notebooks, a window onto the inventor's workshop. His lucidity comes through everywhere . . . His writing and drawing come together as a single, vigorous thought process."—Russell McCormmach, New York Times. "A mine of material . . . Scrupulously edited . . . No one could ask for more . . . A choplicking feast for Edison biographers—well into the next century, and perhaps beyond."—Fred Howard, Washington Post. "A triumph of the bookmaker's art, with splendidly arranged illustrations, essential background information, and cautionary reminders of the common sources on which Edison's imagination drew."—David Joravsky, New York Review of Books. "In the pages of this volume Edison the man, his work, and his times come alive . . . A delight to browse through or to read carefully."—Thomas J. Misa, Science.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-x


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pp. xi-xii

Calendar of Documents

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pp. xiii-xxiii

List of Editorial Headnotes

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p. xxiv-xxiv

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pp. xxv-xxix

The mid-18705 were heady years for Thomas Alva Edison. He commanded the respect of the telegraph industry's corporate leaders; watched his own financial fortunes rise, sink, and rise again; fathered Thomas, Jr., his second child; and moved increasingly into the public eye—reviled as a...

Chronology of Thomas A. Edison, June 1873–March 1876

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pp. xxx-xxxvi

Editorial Policy

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pp. xxxvii-xxxix

Editorial Symbols

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p. xl-xl

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xli-2

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1 June–September 1873: (Docs. 341–364)

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pp. 3-69

At the end of June 1873 Edison returned from England, where he had demonstrated his automatic telegraph system to the British Post Office. During these demonstrations Edison successfully met the conditions set by British telegraph officials (under which the Post Office would cover the cost of the...

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2 October–December 1873: (Docs. 365–389)

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pp. 70-120

During the last months of 1873 Edison followed the lines of work he had pursued in the summer, spending most of his time in the laboratory and executing few new caveats or patent applications. In extensive chemistry experiments he focused his attention particularly on batteries and automatic...

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3 January–March 1874: (Docs. 390–417)

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pp. 121-171

Edison began 1874 as he had ended the previous year, concentrating much of his energy in the laboratory. However, he also turned to the task of producing a manuscript for the book on telegraphy he had begun to plan the previous winter.1 Although he had apparently done some writing in 1873, he now...

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4 April–June 1874: (Docs. 418–448)

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pp. 172-225

In the spring of 1874 Edison continued his work on automatic and domestic telegraphy, and he also renewed his efforts on the quadruplex. New endeavors also occupied his time. His ongoing experiments with automatic telegraphy led to the discovery of the electromotograph phenomenon, while experiments...

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5 July–September 1874: (Docs. 449–494)

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pp. 226-311

The summer of 1874 opened with Western Union making plans for a demonstration of the new quadruplex that would lead to the first public announcement in the New York Times on 10 July. At the same time, Edison and Prescott reached an agreement making Prescott co-owner of the related patent...

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6 October–December 1874: (Docs. 495–524)

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pp. 312-371

During the last three months of 1874 Edison needed money. His shop expenses were high,1 and the financial depression that had gripped the nation for more than a year now seriously affected the business of telegraph companies and their suppliers, Edison and Murray among them. Edison had to sell his...

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7 January–March 1875: (Docs. 525–557)

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pp. 372-460

As a result of his new arrangements with Jay Gould and the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company, Edison began 1875 by severing his ties to Western Union and focusing his attention on automatic telegraphy. He immediately began to enjoy substantial financial benefits. Edison had essentially finished...

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8 April–June 1875: (Docs. 558–590)

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pp. 461-505

In the spring of 1875 Edison consolidated his new business and technical alliances and established a laboratory independent of his manufacturing facilities. He continued as electrician for the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company, a position the company formalized in June. In this capacity he...

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9 July–September 1875: (Docs. 591–634)

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pp. 506-579

While experiments in the new laboratory took much of Edison's time during the summer, he was still occupied with old concerns and acquaintances. William Orton sought to bring Edison back into the Western Union fold by encouraging him to work on acoustic telegraphy. At the same time that the...

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10 October–December 1875: (Docs. 635–703)

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pp. 580-703

Edison spent the autumn of 1875 in his laboratory. He was no longer working actively for the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company, and he turned his full attention to a handful of the many technologies he had determined to investigate at the time he divorced his laboratory from the shop. He dabbled in...

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11 January–March 1876: (Docs. 704–737)

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pp. 704-776

During the winter of 1876 Edison devoted his laboratory work principally to acoustic telegraphy. The electric-pen business grew, and by the end of March was taking all of Charles Batchelor's time. The etheric-force controversy drew in some new combatants and moved into the pages of the...

Appendix 1. Edison's Autobiographical Notes

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pp. 777-790

Appendix 2. Charles Batchelor's Recollections of Edison

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pp. 791-793

Appendix 3. The Dispute over the Quadruplex

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pp. 794-815

Appendix 4. Edison's U.S. Patents, July 1873– March 1876

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pp. 816-818


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pp. 819-824


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pp. 825-826


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pp. 827-842

E-ISBN-13: 9781421412917
E-ISBN-10: 1421412918
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801831010
Print-ISBN-10: 0801831016

Page Count: 896
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: The Papers of Thomas A. Edison
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Reese V. Jenkins, et al. Robert A. Rosenberg, Managing Editor, Book Edition