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Entries in edison (8)

Monday
Jul072008

Movies Will Replace Textbooks (1922)

The 2006 book Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change by Bob Seidensticker is a fascinating read. From page 103:

Schools have had a longstanding immunity against the introduction of new technologies. In 1922 Thomas Edison predicted that movies would replace textbooks. In 1945 one forecaster imagined radios as common as blackboards in classrooms. In the 1960s, B.F. Skinner predicted that teaching machines and programmed instruction would double the amount of information students could learn in a given time. Filmstrips and other audiovisual aids were fads thirty years ago, and the television, now seen as a supplier of brain candy, once had a sterling reputation as an education machine.


See also:
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)

 

Thursday
Dec272007

We Are Animals, Says Mr. Edison (1910)

The January 28, 1910 Decatur Review (Decatur, Illinois) ran portions of an interview with Thomas Edison titled, "We Are Animals, Says Mr. Edison: Inventor Predicts Cheaper Clothing and Less Manual Labor." The entire piece appears below.

In an interview published in the Independent, Thomas A. Edison speaks of future inventions and refers to the problem of getting the most out of fuel as one of the important problems of the day. He has something to say about the clothes of the future.

 

CHEAP CLOTHES.
"The clothes of the future will be so cheap," says Mr. Edison, "that every young woman will be able to follow the fashions promptly, and there will be plenty of fashions. Artificial silk that is superior to natural silk is now made of wood pulp. It shines better than silk. I think that the silk worm barbarism will go in fifty years, just as the indigo of India went with the production of indigo in German laboratories.

THINGS TO LEARN.
"There is much ahead of us. We don't know what gravity is; neither do we know the nature of heat, light and electricity. We are only animals. We are coming out of the dog stage and getting a glimpse of our environment. We don't know - we just suspect a few things. Our practice of shooting, one another in war is proof that we are animals. The make-up of our society is hideous.

NO MANUAL LABOR.
"Communication with other worlds has been suggested. I think we had better stick to this world and find out something about it before we call up our neighbors. They might make us ashamed of ourselves. Not individualism but social labor will dominate the future. Industry will constantly become more social and interdependent. There will be no manual labor in the factories of the future. The men in them will be merely superintendents watching the machinery to see that it works right. Less and less man will be used as an engine or as a horse, and his brain will be employed to benefit himself and his fellows."

Regarding the possibility of using radium as a fuel, Mr. Edison says that is only speculative.

NEW FUEL.
"Radium has great power," he adds. "It has no appreciable limit or end. It is not combustible. A carload of radium would have as much energy as all the millions of tons of coal mined in the United States in a year. I have a spinthariscope, which contains a tiny bit of radium of a size that will go through the eye of a needle. It has been shooting off millions of sparks for six years that I have had it, and I expect it will be shooting sparks the same way for thousands of years. Some day we might find immense deposits of it, then it will be a problem how to handle it without dangerous consequences."

See also:
Edison Battery Solves Old Problems (1909)
Moving Sidewalk (1900)
In the Twentieth Century (Newark Daily Advocate, 1901)

Thursday
Dec202007

Stepped Platform Railway (1890)


These images of a moving sidewalk of the future ran in an 1890 issue of Scientific American. A moving sidewalk very similar to this was actually built for the 1900 Paris Exposition. You can even watch film of the sidewalk in action, shot by Thomas Edison. The images below can also be found in the excellent book Victorian Inventions by Leonard De Vries.


See also:
Moving Sidewalk (1900)
Moving Sidewalk Mechanics (1900)
Gardens of Glowing Electrical Flowers (1900)

Monday
Jun252007

Moving Sidewalk Mechanics (1900)


Edison's film from the 1900 Paris Exposition is amazing, but it leaves you wondering how that moving sidewalk ....well, moves. Wonder no more. This French website answers a few questions via these great illustrations.


See also:
Moving Sidewalk (1900)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)

Sunday
Jun172007

Edison Battery Solves Old Problems (1909)

Think gasoline engines are on their way out? We've been thinking that for about a hundred years now. This story ran in the June 27, 1909 Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California).

The commercial value of the gasoline motor will then disappear. Vehicles charged with the new battery will be about as noiseless as it will be practicable to make any rapidly moving thing.

Tuesday
May292007

Moving Sidewalk (1900)

Below is film of the moving sidewalk featured at the Paris Exposition of 1900. The film is credited to Thomas Edison.

 



The New York Observer ran a series of eight letters from October 11 until December 27, 1900 by a man named Augustus. He was reporting on the Paris Exposition and part two (October 18) includes a description of the "traveling sidewalk" in action.

 

From this part of the fair it is possible to proceed to a distant exhibition which is placed in what is called the Champs de-Mars, without going out of the gates, by means of a travelling sidewalk or a train of electric cars. Thousands avail themselves of these means of transportation. The former is a novelty. It consists of three elevated platforms, the first being stationary, the second moving at a moderate rate of speed, and the third at the rate of about six miles an hour. The moving sidewalks have upright posts with knobbed tops by which one can steady himself in passing to or from the platforms. There are occasional seats on these platforms, and the circuit of the Exposition can be made with rapidity and ease by this contrivance. It also affords a good deal of fun, for most of the visitors are unfamiliar with this mode of transit, and are awkward in its use. The platform runs constantly in one direction, and the electric cars in the opposite.

Below is a photo of the moving sidewalk from the Library of Congress as well as a German postcard (circa 1900) of the moving sidewalk concept.


See also:
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)

Wednesday
Apr042007

Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)


Today we have a follow-up to Monday's post about Arthur Palm, the 14-year-old from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who in 1901 made predictions about what the world of 2001 might look like.

The editors of the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins (Voices of the Wisconsin Past) suggest that Arthur Palm's article in his school newspaper was taking many ideas about the future from the image above, which was printed in Collier's Weekly on January 12, 1901.

This seems quite likely given the specific mention of a sign reading, "Old People Restored to Youth by Electricity, While You Wait." In the upper left corner we can see a sign in the Collier's illustration reading, "Youth Restored by Electricity While You Wait." Palm also mentioned a "Manhattan Air Line" which is visible on a sign in the Collier's illustration as well.

See also:
The Predictions of a 14 Year Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)