The Age of Edison

The Age of Edison

Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America

Book - 2013
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"The late nineteenth century was a period of explosive technological creativity, but arguably the most important invention of all was Thomas Edison's incandescent lightbulb. Unveiled in his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratory in 1879, the lightbulb overwhelmed the American public with the sense of the birth of a new age. More than any other invention, the electric light marked the arrival of modernity. The lightbulb became a catalyst for the nation's transformation from a rural to an urban-dominated culture. City streetlights defined zones between rich and poor, and the electrical grid sharpened the line between town and country. "Bright lights" meant "big city." Like moths to a flame, millions of Americans migrated to urban centers in these decades, leaving behind the shadow of candle and kerosene lamp in favor of the exciting brilliance of the urban streetscape. The Age of Edison places the story of Edison's invention in the context of a technological revolution that transformed America and Europe in these decades. Edison and his fellow inventors emerged from a culture shaped by broad public education, a lively popular press that took an interest in science and technology, and an American patent system that encouraged innovation and democratized the benefits of invention. And in the end, as Freeberg shows, Edison's greatest invention was not any single technology, but rather his reinvention of the process itself. At Menlo Park he gathered the combination of capital, scientific training, and engineering skill that would evolve into the modern research and development laboratory. His revolutionary electrical grid not only broke the stronghold of gas companies, but also ushered in an era when strong, clear light could become accessible to everyone. In The Age of Edison, Freeberg weaves a narrative that reaches from Coney Island and Broadway to the tiniest towns of rural America, tracing the progress of electric light through the reactions of everyone who saw it. It is a quintessentially American story of ingenuity, ambition, and possibility, in which the greater forces of progress and change are made visible by one of our most humble and ubiquitous objects. "-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2013.
ISBN: 9781594204265
1594204268
Branch Call Number: 609 FRE
Characteristics: 354 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.

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zipread
Oct 15, 2016

The Age of Edison. --- by. --- Ernest Freeberg.
In spite of the fact that "Edison" features prominently in the title of this book, it is not a biography of the American and more than any one else has had such a great effect on our world. It is not a biography, rather what it is is a thorough examination of how electricity and not in significantly how artificial lighting change the world of the 19th century and formed the basis for our modern world. It shines A light not the only upon the technology of electricity in the system and skills needed to create and transmit it to places near and far but also it's effect on people and the larger society.
Interesting as well as informative. With index and considerable notes. Bibliography. Illustrated.

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GlenAbbeyWarrior
Apr 11, 2016

Today, we often take electricity for granted. But when Thomas Edison gave us incandescent lighting in 1879, its impact cannot be overstated. From our cherished leisure time to how we spend the working day, the light bulb is perhaps the single greatest invention that transformed society as a whole, serving as a beacon for unprecedented progress. And piecing together this rich social history, Ernest Freeberg provides us with some great stories like how arc and later incandescent lighting was seen in the late nineteenth century as a virtual policeman that would make the streets safer, ending urban decay. What really caught my attention however was the way gas and kerosene producers fought tooth and nail over lighting America's streets. It reminded me a lot of the current dispute going on right now between taxi drivers and Uber. Of course, the fact that all this electrical progress occurred in the United States is no coincidence, according to the author. With a liberal patent system and an entrepreneurial spirit focusing on the practical, Edison and his fellow inventors found fertile ground for their inventions. A really captivating book that opened my eyes to something I really didn't give much thought to.

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ejblake
Feb 01, 2014

Very interesting material on how the electric light changed American society. Not the most captivating writing style.

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