[LB012292], Letter from Thomas Alva Edison to Sherburne Blake Eaton, May 11th, 1882


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[LB012292], Letter from Thomas Alva Edison to Sherburne Blake Eaton, May 11th, 1882

Editor's Notes

Your letter 9th inst as to Mr Clarks letter of 5th returned herewith##I do not see that Mr Clarke need be at all afraid that an Arc Light Co if started would prejudice our chances of success if we do not take up that branch of the business & commence operations right away.##If an Arc Light Co is started in Lawrence & they light up all the streets & large buildings it would not make a difference (under the most favorable conditions to the Arac Coy) of more than 10% in our earnings when we start to light later on the private dwelling houses.##So far as the mere lighting is concerned there is nothing that can be done with the Arc light which we cannot do very much better & (when taken in connectin with our General Distribution System where the expenses are spread over a wide area) certainly as cheap to say nothing of the Safety and simplicity of our light as compared with the Arc Light##There can be no doubt as to our ability to light streets & large places as at this time we are now lighting over a quarter of a mile of one of the widest streets in London (Eng) under the most unfavorable conditions as the Stores on the Street (Holborn Viaduct) do no business after 6 p.m. & therefore display no light.##As I have often said the reason I have not given my attention to outside lighting is that it forms such a small factor in the Industry of Lighting a city & I am quite content that the arc Companies should get all the business it is possible for them to obtain as I know that from the nature of their light I shall have at least 90o% of the lighting to cater for. A Gas Co makes its profits out of the gas sold to consumers whose bills are less than $10 a month##We can make an incandescent light as powerful & certainly far more agreeable than the Arc Light used. We are using in London 32 candle & 50 candle lamps & for weeks we had 100 candle lamps burning in our Lamp Factory here at Geneoa (Switzerland) the Coy that controls my light there had 3000 candle incandescent lamps burning for some time.##When the Electric Light becomes an old story Corporations will not pay the price they do for arc Lights now. In New York City the Gas contract calls for 4 [fuel] gas burners & the corporation only pay the gas Companies for this amount of Light. The Brush Lights on Fifth Avenue & Broadway give about 250 candles effective light. If gas burners of 250 candles were put up instead the Streets would be lighted just as effectively far more agreeable, and considerably cheaper as the cost of Lighting by gas becomes more economical as the candle power of the burner is increased##Then the Arc light is dangerous The wires created in the streets are but temporary the chances of their coming in contact with other wires & thus causing fire are very greaat.##I feel firmly convinced that an arc Coy could not live in Lawrence very long after we have entered into competition with them - The Safety & completeness of our system - the agreeableness simplicity & superiority of our light & last but not least our ability to undersell them - will prove more than they can stand up against##We have no competitor except the Gas Co




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