Thomas Edison and the history of engineering

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Thomas Edison is classified as an independent inventor since he established his Menlo Park laboratory in 1876. Edison created the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, and the motion picture system (Pursell and Hughes 15-16). Pursell and Hughes go on to say that Edison is renowned as "the Nestor of independents and history's best-known inventor" (17). His status as an independent inventor, however, might be questioned because he got significant assistance from his crew of muckers and because he maintained a workplace in Menlo Park. In particular, “Edison, as always, depended heavily on the skilled mechanics and craftsmen (‘muckers’) to transform his ideas and sketches into mechanical and electrical models…” (Pursell and Hughes 33). In this way, Edison qualifies as an early example of an industrial research laboratory as he had a team and a workspace for his endeavors.

Edison at Menlo Park and Bell Labs has similarities and differences. The first similarity is that the two were significant independent inventors. In his laboratory, Bell investigated hearing and speech. He was also “devising apparatus and methods for the electrical communication of intelligence” (Description of the Laboratory Research Organization of the Bell System 9). Edison at Menlo Park also established an invention factory (Pursell and Hughes 25); hence his commitment to innovation. A significant difference lies in Edison’s team, whereas Dr Bell worked independently in his telephone laboratory.

I would rather be an engineer in Bell Labs. It sounds exciting and motivating that Dr Bell “enthusiastically pursued his vision during the hours free from his professorial responsibilities” as it implies an endeavor that offers personal satisfaction. With such commitment to one’s job, I believe Bell Labs would be more satisfying work. I believe my efforts at Bell Labs would lead to greater social benefit. The underlying reason is that working in a place that one love leads to working passionately to produce the best results (Tampubolon).

Works Cited

"A Description of the Laboratory Research Organization of the Bell System." HathiTrust,

Pursell, Carroll, and Thomas P. Hughes. "American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970." The American Historical Review, vol. 96, no. 1, 1991, p. 247.

Tampubolon, Hotner. "The Relationship between Employee Engagement, Job Motivation, and Job Satisfaction towards the Employee Performance." Corporate Ownership and Control, vol. 13, no. 2, 2016.

October 07, 2021

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