Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
July 25, 2012

Is Your Innovation Cool Enough?

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Become More Innovative, Innovation Quotes - Tags: ,

It is the middle of summer and it is hot outside. In some places really hot. It brings to mind one of my favorite innovations, air conditioning. Air conditioning was innovated by Willis Haviland Carrier around 1902 in upstate New York. I say innovated rather than invented because the basic idea already existed, but Carrier was able to perfect it and take it to market.

Edison once said referring to the creation of some of his inventions, “I start where the last man left off.” Carrier did exactly that, he took what had already been created and took it a few steps further. The basic idea of moving around cool air had been around for thousands of years.  The one important component, the compressor, had been around for nearly a hundred years, but they had trouble finding an effective coolant. Water did not work well and some of the other chemicals they tried were poisonous. Circulating deadly air was not going to work no matter how cool it was. Carrier came up with a non toxic coolant and was able to make a system that worked very well.

As important as the system itself, was Carrier’s ability to sell the system. Air conditioning really took off, first in movie theaters, then in office buildings and eventually in homes. All of this because Carrier was able to build on what other people had begun, make it better and then sell it to the hot consumers. So the next time you come in from the heat, think about Carrier and take time to build on others’ ideas. You never know what cool innovation you may come up with.

To learn more about how air conditioners work please see the video below:


July 17, 2012

Dreaming About Innovation

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Innovation Quotes, Thomas Edison - Tags: ,

We live in a world where yesterday’s science fiction is today’s science fact. Inventions that were just dreams are now in everyday use. Edison was this type of dreamer. He stated, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.” You could also state this as, “I dream about what the world needs and then go out and create it.”

Below is a very interesting video of 10 Future Technologies That Already Exist. Some people dream about inventions, but others go out and create innovation. Today spend some time dreaming about what the future can hold and then go out and create it. Other people are creating the future and you can too.


July 10, 2012

Immerse Yourself in the World of Thomas Edison

Author: Don Mangum, Jr. - Categories: Become More Innovative, Thomas Edison - Tags:

One way we all can learn how to become more innovative is by studying the lives of innovators. We have studied the lives of over one hundred and twenty-five innovators. While there are many similarities, you can learn something new from each one and their individual approaches to their problems and issues. You probably don’t have time to look at hundreds of innovators, so if you have time to look at just one, we recommend Thomas Edison.

Thanks to the work of many historians and others through the years, we have an incredible amount of information about Edison and his inventions. Through books and other media you can study his life and his approaches to innovation. We also highly recommend going to the historical sites that preserve his legacy, if you can. Here you can immerse yourself in his world and gain insights into the life of the greatest of all innovators.

In addition to the laboratory, the historical site includes the Edison home in West Orange, NJ. This is a very important part of your visit–to be able to immerse yourself into his personal life. It shows that Edison had to struggle to balance his personal life with his professional life. It will also help you see him as a real person who led a remarkable life.

These and other Edison historical sites allow you to get a little deeper into Edison’s life and his innovations. Reading books and stories about him is very helpful, but to walk where he walked and see where he worked provides unique insights. Now, we don’t all have time or resources to make a personal visit to the Edison sites, but there is another way to immerse yourself in his world of invention. That’s through your imagination. If you take the time to study, and then imagine yourself there in his world, you can also gain valuable insights. So, we recommend that you take time to immerse yourself in a world of innovation by using your imagination.
This blog was originally posted September 20, 2011