Edison and Innovation Blog

Learning Innovation from Thomas A. Edison
December 29, 2014

The Words of Thomas Edison

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

Today, I have included a video of two speeches directly from Thomas Edison. He talks about the creation of the light bulb and the electrical distribution system. He also speaks of the advances in electronic communications and continuing improvements in electrical systems. He encourages future innovators. The video is about six minutes long. It is fascinating to look back through time and be able to see him and hear his voice, neither of which would be possible except for his remarkable innovations. I understood his perspective better by watching and listening. Take time to watch and you may learn a litte from the master of innovation.

This blog was originally posted December 4, 2013.

December 18, 2014

Christmas with Thomas Edison 2014

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

Every year at this time I spend time thinking about writing a new blog about Edison’s impact on Christmas, but I never have come up with a better one than the original.  We first posted the original on December 14, 2010. We re-post it every year and it is always one of the most popular for that year. Why has it been so popular? It shows how Edison’s innovations impacted simple parts our lives and made them better. This year I have added a couple of additional videos for your enjoyment. We hope you enjoy this blog that has become part of our holiday tradition.

Merry Christmas,

Norwell Consulting


You probably did not realize this, but in addition to all of his other inventions, Thomas Edison also innovated the way we celebrate Christmas. Three particular Edison innovations enhanced the holiday.

During the Christmas season of 1880, a year after he invented the light bulb, Edison hung the first Christmas lights. Visitors to the laboratory that year were treated to the light display. Two years later Edison’s colleague, Edward H. Johnson, put the first red and green lights on a Christmas tree. It would be another forty years until outside lighting would become popular.

This time of year you cannot go anywhere without hearing Christmas music. We hear the familiar sounds of Christmas music in stores, in our cars, when we’re on hold for a phone call, and in our homes and churches. Not only did Edison invent the phonograph but he recorded and sold Christmas music. (To listen to some of these original Edison recordings click here)

Christmas movies have become a staple of the holiday and Edison created some of the earliest. Some of Edison’s early silent movies were made for the holidays including “The Night Before Christmas” and “A Christmas Carol.”

Below is Edison’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” It has been restored this year with sound to be just as it would have been if viewed in 1908. The special effects are really quite amazing for its time. Enjoy and have a Happy Holidays from Norwell Consulting.

New for 2014

Night before Christmas- This is from 1905,  three years before the Christmas Carol movie.

Silent Night – This gives you a feel of what is was like to experience music in the time of Edison. You not only hear the music, but you can see a phonograph in action.


December 10, 2014

What is a Hero?

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

A hero is defined as a “person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.” It does not mean that the hero is perfect, but rather they have admirable qualities and or have performed admirably. A hero creates patterns or models for us to follow.

What type of heroes do we have in our lives? Who are the heroes of the children around us? Are they sports stars or celebrities? Are they politicians or other historical figures? On the list of heroes in our lives we should make sure that we have innovators. After studying the lives of well over one hundred innovators, we have seen patterns and models we can follow to become more innovative and more successful.

The three short videos below were created for children and clearly show attributes of successful innovators. Thomas Edison and his ability to keep trying different approaches until he found success. George Washington Carver and his ability to stay focused on his tasks despite incredible distractions and obstacles. Guglielmo Marconi and his ability to continue even when others around him told him he would not succeed. Maybe we should consider having some innovators as personal heroes and making sure that the next generation do this as well. You might just help create a better and more innovative place.

Thomas Edison


George Washington Carver


Guglielmo Marconi


December 2, 2014

Innovate as One

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

I have been part of many teams in my life and I have watched many teams in many different sports compete together for a common goal. I have played sports and have coached youth sports teams. Also, I have been part of many teams at work and in other organizations as the leader or as a member of the team, and I have taught teamwork skills. It has always fascinated me that when teams work well they can accomplish amazing things, and when they don’t work well they can create a disaster.

Chior is an Example of a TeamA choir is a wonderful example of a team. Many different people often signing different parts, but together they can make beautiful music. A recent study out of Sweden documented that when choirs sing together sometimes their heartbeats will start to beat in sync. When the conditions are right parts of the brain are affected in such a way that the group joins together on a conscious and subconscious level. It is similar to how flocks of birds fly together or a school of fish seem to swim as one.

How does this apply to innovation? We live in a complex world and it is almost impossible to innovate by yourself. One person can have an amazing idea. But to get this idea moving toward a successful innovation takes hard work by a lot of people. This was also true in Edison’s time. He had his most of his success when he had a team of people working for him and with him.

So, as you work on your innovation, spend some time making sure you are working well as a team. As you do this, you will find that as a group you will be able to do things that you could never do alone. Your group may not be able to make beautiful music, but if you work together you may even find your team in sync, making a beautiful innovation.

Related Links

Video discussion the study click here (It is in Swedish with English subtitles)

Interview about the study click here

How Music can relate to innovation click here