[D8905AKN], Essay, Joseph Kareis, 1889


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[D8905AKN], Essay, Joseph Kareis, 1889

Editor's Notes

Edison and his Phonograph####"the greatest happiness of mankind is only the Personality"####Goethe####Goethe, to whose penetrative glance lay open the varied phenomenon of nature externally as well as internally, seems to have written the above word with reference to Napoleon. One is in many ways remindedof this when one would speak of the phonograph, which it is hard to think without its creator.####Edison has certainly done everything that his picture may only be represented with his world renowned "talking machine," which seems to be the pet child of his inventions, and one might well ask for the process by which the extraordinary man obtained, in this instrument, by the simplest means, the most striking results.####Whoever would not like to see Edison brought into connection with a great "Corsican," must find fault firstly with nature; the inscrutable godes however has put many a resemblance into the external picture of the two men, and History shall mark them as conquerors, conquerors ertainly on the most remote regions.####The American, which is not 42 years of age, bears upon his tolerably broad shoulders a head moulded decidedly after that of Napoleon, this resemblance is increased by thtat he allowes his hair to fall over the forehead, as we are accustomed to see in the pitures of the first emperor of the French####When President Carnot received in Fontainebleau, the 31 July 1889, the representatives of the Congress of Elecftricians, and had them through the rooms of the palace, there were, in the chambers one occcupied by Napoeon I, two marble busts of the same, one by david, the other one by Canovo:####Then the French members of the Congress painted out at once the resemblance of the imperial countenance with the face of Edison.####But there are also certain analogies in the haracters of both: The phenomenal capability for strivigin, with fiery energy themselves, the extraordinary memory, the lofty thirst for fame and the love of possession, all this is found in the two men, and they also resemble one another in that they attracted to themselves a large number of highly gifted assistants and knew how to retain those, which willingly place themselves into the servie of the higher Intelligence and also gain the victory in her sign.####Edison also began small,--and how small!####He was indeed very sagacious in the choice of his parents. In a certain sense at least, but without the innate genius he would with all the love of reading which he inherisates from his mother will all the manual desterity inheritated from his father, probably hae become only an ordinary mechanic or a tradesman.####His mother is said to have been a highly talented woman and being a former teacher must have early discovered her son's gifts for she sent him, a twelve years old boy, into the world to help his father which was growing old, and had successively been taylor, woodcutter and corndealer, to support the family: Edison went, and has--a happy man--second for himself the loftiest privilege of man, the privilege of determining his aims and future himself, which from that time he preserved in a soverain manner.####At first he had an opportunity to sell fruit, candy and newspapers in a train in central Michigan. A short time after this he was editor of a small journal, which he printed himself by means of some old types which he had bought; at the same time he did not neglect to study, which he on the contrary did with the utmost energy and great success.####By an accident he was deprived of this printing press, and here came to him the gratitude of one of the railroad officials the child of which at the risk of his own life he had snatched away from the rails, when the train was thundering towards them: The father taught him how to telegraph, and it was by this that the opportunity was gien to him to think over the nature of electriity.####Multiple telegraphy continues to occupy his mind [------] of electrial science on which already Dr. Stark, Marou, Bosche and others had been experimenting, but in vain, seemed to him [--- -- -- ----] to bring hear perfection, and the means he chose and which really brought him towards his aim, were the most unexpected and remote.####But it was not before 1874, that the system was perfect;and now it is used in England by a great many electric and telegraphic companies. Edison was a made man. But this great success only spurred his mind to reach still higher aims.A creative period had arrived in ElectroTechnic: Together with Bell and Gray also Edison worked on the perfection of the telephone, and particularly to laurels of Bell who had gainedimmortal fame and immense riches, did not let the other competitors last.####Indeed Edison invented and patented, the 21 July 18777, his Phonograph, which he meant to use for the reproduction of telegraphi signs;the thought, to use it for reproduction of speech, came to him only later.####Before Edison already, Leon Scott had tried in 1856 to construct a machine, which he called phonoautograph, and a short time after, Cras, a Frenchman, had presented to the Paris academy a DESCRIPTION of a phonograph, or of a machine for reproduction of sound, but to pass the bridge from the idea to the execution, was only reserved to Edison.####The astonighment produced at the reproduction of the Phonograph, was universal and immense; so great, that there was great doubt of the genuineness of the reproduction, and when in March 1878 the Phonograph was presented to the Paris Academy, the "Immortals" believed it was only a trick of Ventriloquism.####Then already the apparatus represented different voices, sentences in different langauages as well as musical pieces at the same time; inits present form the phonograph is so mjuch different from the old type, that one hardly recognizes in it any more than the principle In the modern machine he uses vase cylinders, which expand equally and thus prevent cracking of the surface. A small motor fed by a galvanci battery gives it an equal speed; the reproduction may be heard either by single persons by means of pertubes attached to the reproducer, or may be made audible to a large auditory in a large room or reception-hall.#####I will not speak here of the future applications the handsomely furnished machine is apt to be appointed to; for in this respect a judgment of today may easily say either too much or too little.####As to other numerous inventions of edison, they are scarcely to be numbered and their description fills whole volumes. How much does the Incandescent Lamp, the dynamo-Mahine, shortly the whole Electrotechnic owe to this man, and how much in return does he owe to it. He has a princely income, which he seems to wholly devote to his laboratory, library, and to science.####His cooperatives and assistants too seem to have a good incomce, for the Angels [------] are not ashamed to work in order to make money, and are not apt to work simply for the sake of the beautiful looks of their employers; and Edison does seem to remunerate very freely and liberally the servies of his cooperatives, this they be one reason for his popularity among his assistants. To a greater part however this popularity is due to his personality and character; obliging and pleasing as he appears to all that have to do with him, he possesses a beautiful trae of characer rarely met with in [---], "self made man" which has himself construted the position he stands in, namely to make his visitors or all with whom he is conersing, feel as if they were the more distinguished. This trce of character, if sincere, is at least a sign of beautiful modesty.####There exist a great many anecdoes about him and that he is highly vaued he was by the best known and most distinguished men of electrical science, I as W. Thompson and others, is only natural, on the other side one does not understand what causes him to be a marked antagonist of certain parts of Electrotechnic p.c of the electrial accumulators. But notwithstanding this and notwithstanding the opinion of a large number of scientific men, that there exists for him no reason and no right to fight against the installation, all world adores the great pathfinder and bestowes honors upon him, whose itnernal nature and character are reflected in real deeds. For how would it have been possible for the former train boy to reach the highest aims in relatively so short a time?####Like Chateaubriand when he said Napoleon was the greatest poet of his period because he generated the greatest ideas and sent them forth into the world,####thus with the same right we an say that Edison reaches with the grasp of his genius into the regions of possibility to create realities.####jos Karies####Principal Engineeron the Emperial Royal Ministry of Commerce####Vienna Austria####[End. Name mentions: Thomas Edison, Nancy Edison, (mother), Edison's father, Jos kareis, Dr. Stark, Marou, Boshe, Napoleon, Chateaubriand, Bell, President Carnot, Leon Scott, Cras, Goethe]




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