[D8847ACC], Letter from A E Cousens to Thomas Alva Edison, September 10th, 1888


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[D8847ACC], Letter from A E Cousens to Thomas Alva Edison, September 10th, 1888

Editor's Notes

[written from Orange re: possible industrial espionage] From questions asked me a few days ago I think that some one connected with the graphophone people has ascertained who was working in your laboratory at the time when the principal improvements were made in the phonograph. I may be mistaken in this [unclear] but will explain my reasons for thinking [it?]. Last Firday I was followed into a [restaurant?] by a gentleman on who took a seat at the same table and after some general conversation began talking about the phonograph with the details of which he seemed thoroughly familiar. He wanted to know when it was discovered that wax was better than tin foil, & why the most distinct speech was obtained when the recording point cut deeply into the cylinder. I explained that the depth probably prevented the tension on the point from causing the rebound which would occur if got to near the surface and in answer to some further questioning was about to tell him what you had said of the two actions when the improved plan was first adopted--your comparing them respectivly to the furrow made by one spike of a harrow & that formed by a plough--when I observed that he appeared to be writing down what I said although his hands being below the top of the table I could not see either pencil or paper, however I felt certain he had some motive in asking so many questions & changed the conversation somewhat, but well went on fishing for information wanting to know when the most important improvements were made & particularly what you had said or thought about them at the time. I then for some reason wanted a few a few particulars about John Ott, desiring amongst other things to how whether he had worked as experimented with the phonograph before entering your laboratory. The man may have simply wished to gratify his curiosity or possibly he is a reporter, but whatever his object he is exceedingly [clear?] in asking questions in a conversational murmer + almost apparently withough intending to do so & gets a lot of information by most ingeniously bringing about an argument on the subject. Before parting with me he obtained my address under the pretence of possibly wishing to see me about an experiment that he didn't have time to try himself. In answer to a question he said he was slightly acquainted with Tainter &c in case is up to any [unclear] work I thought it right to let you know.





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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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