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 the era was Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb. Unveiled in his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratory in 1879, the light bulb overwhelmed Americans with the sense that they were witnessing the birth of a new age. More than any other invention, electric light marked the arrival of modernity, and Edison became a mythic figure and the avatar of an era.

To modern readers, electric light is so common that its remarkable qualities are buried under a thick layer of the obvious. We have forgotten the excitement and wonder that people felt when they saw electric light for the first time. But Americans were not simply passive consumers of Edison's 'miraculous' new light; rather, they played an active role in its creation. In myriad ways, they grappled with its meaning and used their own powers of invention to adapt the technology to a full spectrum of new uses that no single inventor, no matter how farsighted, could have anticipated.

Electirc light changed the pace of city life and the nature of work and play, and stimulated countless innovations that changed every aspect of American life - from sleep patterns to surgery, shopping to waging war. By tracing the role that incandescent light and the electrical grid played in the pivotal decades when our modern urban and commercial culture was born, we can better understand the sources of this country's great technological creativity and appreciate that inventions are not simply conjured up by great men like Edison, but evolve as they are shaped by a variety of political, economic, and cultural forces.

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.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, [2013]
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9781594204265
Branch Call Number: 303.48309 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.

e
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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