Happy Birthday, Thomas Edison!

Today, Feb. 11, 2016, marks the 165th birthday of one Thomas Edison.

While he may no longer be around for us to celebrate with, ECS is paying homage to one of our earliest members.

“Genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”

– Thomas Edison, Harper’s Monthly (September 1932 edition)

Each doll housed a phonograph that was activated by a crank on the doll's back.Image: John Reed/National Park Service

Each doll housed a phonograph that was activated by a crank on the doll’s back.
Image: John Reed/National Park Service

Beth Schademann, ECS Publications Specialist, recently came across an NPR article regarding one of ECS’s most famous members and his slightly terrifying, obscure invention.

We talk quite a bit about Thomas Edison here at ECS. Edison happens to be one of our earliest and most recognizable members, not to mention a prolific inventor and entrepreneur.

While Edison is most known for his inventions related to the light bulb and phonograph, he also created the world’s first talking doll back in 1890.

The dolls still exist, but it wasn’t possible to hear the recordings on their tiny phonographs until now. Although, we may have been better off if we never heard these creepy renditions of classic children’s songs.

Edison wasn’t trying to take over the doll market with these toys, he was instead attempting to market his new wax cylinder phonograph for people to use in their homes.

If you also find these recording a bit unsettling, you’re not alone—Edison himself even found them unpleasant. After the dolls flopped in the market due to their high price ($200 in today’s currency) and creepy nature, Edison stopped manufacturing them after only two months.

A curator from the Thomas Edison National Historical Park states that after the dolls went under, Edison refereed to them as his “little monsters.”


The Rise of Quantum Dots

Andrea Guenzel, ECS Publications Specialist, recently spotted a CNN article on quantum dots and how they’re poised to change industry.

The technology behind Edison’s incandescent blub may be a thing of the past, but the warm, gentle glow that it produced may be making its way back into your living room.

But we’re not scrapping the advancements in LEDs and regressing to old technology to do this. Instead, we’re turning our attention to quantum dots—the tiny crystal-like particles that are 10,000 times smaller than the width of human hair.

And the dots’ applications do not end simply at bulbs. These tiny bursts of light are expected to impact displays, solar cells, and cancer imaging equipment as well.


This Day in Electrochemistry – Electric Lamp

On January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison received the historic patent embodying the principals of his incandescent lamp that paved the way for the universal domestic use of electric light.Image:Government Documents

On January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison received the historic patent embodying the principals of his incandescent lamp that paved the way for the universal domestic use of electric light.
Image: Government Documents

On this very day in the year 1880, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for the electric lamp, which gave light by incandescence.

While the first electric carbon arc lamp was invented by Sir Humphrey Davey of England in 1801, it wasn’t until Edison’s discovery in 1880 that we got the longer lasting electric lamp that changed the way we live.

Edison was one of the original members of The Electrochemical Society, joining the organization in 1903 – just one year after it was established. Early members such as Charles Burgess recall attending ECS meetings at Edison’s home in the early days of the Society.

On his years of research in developing the electric light blub, Edison was quoted in “Talks with Edison” by George Parsons Lathrop in Harpers magazine on February of 1890. He had this to say:

“During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple.”

Since the Thomas Edison’s days in the Society, ECS has been working to promote technological innovation and inspire scientists from around the world. Join some of the greatest scientific minds in electrochemical and solid state science and technology by becoming a member today!

Intel may be known for microprocessors and long-time ECS member Gordon E. Moore, but now the company’s Edison technology is lending itself to something entirely different.

They call it the Spider Dress, and the innovation involved in making this product goes far beyond sheer aesthetic value.

The 3-D printed dress was created by Anouk Wipprecht and uses Intel’s Edison technology to power robotic spider legs surrounding the collar, designed to keep people out of your personal space.

The dress’s robotic arms are connected to proximity sensors, which will react when someone gets too close to the wearer of the dress. Further, the sensors use biometric signals to measure the wearer’s stress level, which allow the dress to respond based on your mood.