Blog #2 Millard

In chapter 2 of America on Record, Andre Millard discusses how Thomas Edison sought to find use for one of his most recognizable invention, the phonograph.  Edison was a business man, so it only made sense that his inventions had the intent to make office work easier.  He hoped the the phonograph would take the ease out of transcribing messages and turn it into a “paperless business.” This was all nealy a decade before fax machines and digital media. However, he soon realized this wouldn’t make him the most profit.

The brilliance of Edison is that he understood the art of business and just the mere act of being just an inventor didn’t make you money-it would be from selling the product to the consumer in hopes they find a use for it.  So, not only did he invent the object, he formed his business company around the product he invented and marketed it it commercially. Edison built an empire around his the phonograph and formed The Edison Speaking Phonograph Company in 1878. An enterprise was built thereafter-finding a need for sound in everyday objects such as, talking dolls.  Later on, motion pictures began to surface into society with another one of Edison’s inventions-the kinetoscope. Edison realized that he could profit off of creating and selling recorded sound and thus, wax cylinders were born. They would play on the same machine that he also invented and sold to the general public

One can say that Thomas Edison was the Steve Jobs (co-founder and CEO of Apple) of the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s.  Just like Edison, Jobs created a market around his inventions.  The best comparison is the I-pod.  The actual device is the main invention.  The idea of also creating a program that would supply the files for the player is the same as Edison’s wax cylinders to the phonograph. I-tunes caries a specific MP3 encrypted file, that can only be played on the device it is owned by.  Even after the I-pod, Jobs continues to market new inventions based on the original-from I-shuffle, I-touch, to the newest: I-pad.  All have the trademark “Apple” logo, identifying the creator-the same as Edison’s face on each cylinder released on the market.

It isn’t a coincidence that almost a hundred years later, the same marketing idea is still being used.  Edison knew what he was doing and set a business standard that is still being followed to this day.

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1 Comment

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