Monday, April 16, 2007

A new portrait of Thomas Edison

Bloomberg reviews a new biography about inventor Thomas Edison, which portrays the famous inventor as a tireless worker and endless promoter.

The book also details Edison's shortcomings: his lack of savvy in business matters, and the liberal manner in which he bent the truth.

An excerpt from, "Thomas Edison Hoodwinks Reporters, Misjudges Markets in New Bio":

Edison persuaded a toadying press and eager investors that his rollout of this or that revolutionary invention was days or weeks away, chronically ``blurring the distinction between what he hoped for and what he had achieved.'' Anyone in business knows the phenomenon.

One day, he switched on a prototype light bulb for a visiting reporter. ``Sitting in front of the bulb that would burn out in a couple of minutes were he to leave it on beyond the brief demonstration, Edison was asked, `How long will it last?' He answered, `Forever, almost,''' writes Stross, a business professor at San Jose State University.

Interesting stuff. That first paragraph makes him sound a bit like Steve Jobs, doesn't it?

Check out the article and, if you have an interest in the life of this famous inventor, keep an eye out for the book.