When inventor Thomas Edison visited Burbank, he signed the book and in the space marked “Interested in,” Edison wrote the word, “Everything,” followed by a large exclamation point.
That was almost an understatement. In his lifetime, Edison invented the incandescent light, the phonograph, the wax recording, and the hideaway bed.
He also invented wax paper, a variety of Portland cement, underground electrical wires, an electric railway car, an electric railroad signal, the light socket and light switch, a method for making synthetic rubber from goldenrod plants, the chemical phenol, and the motion picture camera.
He also found time to start the first electric company and gave us the quadruplex telegraph.
A news reporter once complimented Thomas Edison on his inventive genius.
“I am not a great inventor,” said Edison.
“But you have over 1,000 patents to your credit,” protested the reporter.
“Yes,” replied Edison, “but about the only invention I can really claim as absolutely original is the phonograph. I’m an awfully good sponge. I absorb ideas from every source I can and put them to practical use. Then I improve them until they become of some value.”
Then Edison added, “The ideas I use are mostly the ideas of other people who don’t develop them themselves.”
If there is a moral here, it is that curiosity about the world around us can open up opportunities for us that would be undreamed of otherwise.
© 2007, John C. Fitts, III. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted from Grace Drops, Volume 5 (2007).