Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thomas Edison involved in a murder of a fellow inventor?

Thomas Edison was one of America's greatest inventors, but the guy did have his eccentricities and marketing excesses. Like many other famous people of his time, when it was legal to do so, Edison was known for using cocaine to be able to work around the clock. And in an incident in his competition with Tesla (who was pushing his A.C. electricity technology (Edison pushed D.C.)), Edison arranged to have some dogs killed with A.C. power to show the negative aspects of A.C. power (conveniently forgetting to point out that D.C. is probably worse). Edison had his moments. But party to a murder of a fellow movie inventor? Well, if Alexander Graham Bell stole the key breakthrough for telephones, I suppose anything is possible. The current issue of Materials Today (Jul/Aug 2008, page 56) has an article about the death of Louis Le Prince, who in October 1888 in Leeds, England, was the first person to record motion images on film, and was awarded patents on his devices several years before either Edison or the Lumiere brothers got their patents. You can view this first movie, two seconds long, at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1117955101308069748 On September 16, 1890, Le Prince disappeared and was never found, despite investigations by both French and English police. And that's where this story ends for about 100 years. Some years ago, Alexis Bedford, a graduate student at New York University (NYU), was searching through the archives at the New York Public Library (Bedford is studying chemistry and photography), and came across some papers of Thomas Edison's dealing with photographic lighting (which have since been authenticated). An entry in one of the books, dated 20 September 1890 (four days after Le Prince had disappeared) reads as follows: "Eric called me today from Dijon. It has been done. Prince is no more. This is good news but I flinched when he told me. Murder is not my thing. I'm an inventor and my inventions for moving images can now move forward." If this entry is truly one of Edison's, at a minimum, he helped conceal a murder. At worst, he was an accomplice. America's greatest inventor - a drug addicted, dog killing, murderer? This is some meaty material for a motion picture. I look forward to anyone who writes a book on this.

4 comments:

DeadRooster said...

Wow! That is so interesting. The more I learn about Edison, the more I think he was pretty diabolical. What DID he invent?

I read he didn't invent the light bulb either.

Kelly W. said...

in light of revisionist approach to history, the business politics much alike the General Electric-Edison AC vs DC, and the nebulous thoughts found at Wikipedia - we'd never know what the man REALLY invented

Anonymous said...

This story is a FAKE, you gullible people. Debunked here: http://www.eriksherman.com/photo/2008/06/is-edison-murder-charge-phone-phoney.html

Kelly W. said...

thank you for the correction. The info is as good as what seems to be a veritable publication. We all try to be non-gullible, in order to live happier lives :-)