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Edison, His Life and Inventions by Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin

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his foresight and inventiveness made him the father
of the "ticker," in connection with which he was
thus, like Laws, one of the first to grasp and exploit
the underlying principle of the "central station" as
a universal source of supply. The genesis of his
invention Mr. Callahan has told in an interesting way:
"In 1867, on the site of the present Mills Building on
Broad Street, opposite the Stock Exchange of today,
was an old building which had been cut up to
subserve the necessities of its occupants, all engaged
in dealing in gold and stocks. It had one main entrance
from the street to a hallway, from which entrance
to the offices of two prominent broker firms
was obtained. Each firm had its own army of boys,
numbering from twelve to fifteen, whose duties were
to ascertain the latest quotations from the different
exchanges. Each boy devoted his attention to some
particularly active stock. Pushing each other to
get into these narrow quarters, yelling out the prices
at the door, and pushing back for later ones, the
hustle made this doorway to me a most undesirable
refuge from an April shower. I was simply whirled
into the street. I naturally thought that much of
this noise and confusion might be dispensed with, and
that the prices might be furnished through some
system of telegraphy which would not require the
employment of skilled operators. The conception of
the stock ticker dates from this incident."

Mr. Callahan's first idea was to distribute gold
quotations, and to this end he devised an "indicator."
It consisted of two dials mounted separately, each
revolved by an electromagnet, so that the desired
figures were brought to an aperture in the case
enclosing the apparatus, as in the Laws system. Each
shaft with its dial was provided with two ratchet
wheels, one the reverse of the other. One was used in
connection with the propelling lever, which was provided
with a pawl to fit into the teeth of the reversed
ratchet wheel on its forward movement. It was thus
made impossible for either dial to go by momentum
beyond its limit. Learning that Doctor Laws, with
the skilful aid of F. L. Pope, was already active in the
same direction, Mr. Callahan, with ready wit, transformed
his indicator into a "ticker" that would make
a printed record. The name of the "ticker" came
through the casual remark of an observer to whom
the noise was the most striking feature of the
mechanism. Mr. Callahan removed the two dials, and,
substituting type wheels, turned the movements face
to face, so that each type wheel could imprint its
characters upon a paper tape in two lines. Three
wires stranded together ran from the central office
to each instrument. Of these one furnished the current
for the alphabet wheel, one for the figure wheel,
and one for the mechanism that took care of the
inking and printing on the tape. Callahan made the
further innovation of insulating his circuit wires,
although the cost was then forty times as great as
that of bare wire. It will be understood that
electromagnets were the ticker's actuating agency. The
ticker apparatus was placed under a neat glass shade
and mounted on a shelf. Twenty-five instruments
were energized from one circuit, and the quotations
were supplied from a "central" at 18 New Street.
The Gold & Stock Telegraph Company was promptly
organized to supply to brokers the system, which
was very rapidly adopted throughout the financial
district of New York, at the southern tip of Manhattan
Island. Quotations were transmitted by the
Morse telegraph from the floor of the Stock Exchange
to the "central," and thence distributed to the
subscribers. Success with the "stock" news system was

It was at this juncture that Edison reached New
York, and according to his own statement found
shelter at night in the battery-room of the Gold
Indicator Company, having meantime applied for a
position as operator with the Western Union. He
had to wait a few days, and during this time he seized
the opportunity to study the indicators and the complicated
general transmitter in the office, controlled
from the keyboard of the operator on the floor of the
Gold Exchange. What happened next has been the
basis of many inaccurate stories, but is dramatic
enough as told in Mr. Edison's own version: "On the
third day of my arrival and while sitting in the office,
the complicated general instrument for sending on all
the lines, and which made a very great noise, suddenly
came to a stop with a crash. Within two minutes
over three hundred boys--a boy from every broker
in the street--rushed up-stairs and crowded the long
aisle and office, that hardly had room for one hundred,
all yelling that such and such a broker's wire was out
of order and to fix it at once. It was pandemonium,
and the man in charge became so excited that he lost
control of all the knowledge he ever had. I went to
the indicator, and, having studied it thoroughly, knew
where the trouble ought to be, and found it. One of
the innumerable contact springs had broken off and
had fallen down between the two gear wheels and
stopped the instrument; but it was not very noticeable.
As I went out to tell the man in charge what
the matter was, Doctor Laws appeared on the scene,
the most excited person I had seen. He demanded
of the man the cause of the trouble, but the man was
speechless. I ventured to say that I knew what the
trouble was, and he said, `Fix it! Fix it! Be quick!'
I removed the spring and set the contact wheels at
zero; and the line, battery, and inspecting men all
scattered through the financial district to set the
instruments. In about two hours things were working
again. Doctor Laws came in to ask my name and
what I was doing. I told him, and he asked me to
come to his private office the following day. His
office was filled with stacks of books all relating to
metaphysics and kindred matters. He asked me a
great many questions about the instruments and his
system, and I showed him how he could simplify
things generally. He then requested that I should
call next day. On arrival, he stated at once that
he had decided to put me in charge of the whole
plant, and that my salary would be $300 per month!
This was such a violent jump from anything I had
ever seen before, that it rather paralyzed me for a
while, I thought it was too much to be lasting, but
I determined to try and live up to that salary if
twenty hours a day of hard work would do it. I
kept this position, made many improvements, devised
several stock tickers, until the Gold & Stock
Telegraph Company consolidated with the Gold Indicator
Company." Certainly few changes in fortune
have been more sudden and dramatic in any
notable career than this which thus placed an ill-
clad, unkempt, half-starved, eager lad in a position
of such responsibility in days when the fluctuations
in the price of gold at every instant meant fortune or
ruin to thousands.

Edison, barely twenty-one years old, was a keen
observer of the stirring events around him. "Wall
Street" is at any time an interesting study, but it
was never at a more agitated and sensational period
of its history than at this time. Edison's arrival in
New York coincided with an active speculation in
gold which may, indeed, be said to have provided him
with occupation; and was soon followed by the attempt
of Mr. Jay Gould and his associates to corner
the gold market, precipitating the panic of Black
Friday, September 24, 1869. Securing its import
duties in the precious metal and thus assisting to
create an artificial stringency in the gold market, the
Government had made it a practice to relieve the
situation by selling a million of gold each month.
The metal was thus restored to circulation. In some
manner, President Grant was persuaded that general
conditions and the movement of the crops would be
helped if the sale of gold were suspended for a time;
and, this put into effect, he went to visit an old
friend in Pennsylvania remote from railroads and
telegraphs. The Gould pool had acquired control of
$10,000,000 in gold, and drove the price upward
rapidly from 144 toward their goal of 200. On Black
Friday they purchased another $28,000,000 at 160,
and still the price went up. The financial and
commercial interests of the country were in panic; but
the pool persevered in its effort to corner gold, with
a profit of many millions contingent on success.
Yielding to frantic requests, President Grant, who
returned to Washington, caused Secretary Boutwell,
of the Treasury, to throw $4,000,000 of gold into the
market. Relief was instantaneous, the corner was
broken, but the harm had been done. Edison's remarks
shed a vivid side-light on this extraordinary
episode: "On Black Friday," he says, "we had a
very exciting time with the indicators. The Gould
and Fisk crowd had cornered gold, and had run the
quotations up faster than the indicator could follow.
The indicator was composed of several wheels; on
the circumference of each wheel were the numerals;
and one wheel had fractions. It worked in the same
way as an ordinary counter; one wheel made ten
revolutions, and at the tenth it advanced the adjacent
wheel; and this in its turn having gone ten revolutions,
advanced the next wheel, and so on. On the
morning of Black Friday the indicator was quoting
150 premium, whereas the bids by Gould's agents in
the Gold Room were 165 for five millions or any part.
We had a paper-weight at the transmitter (to speed
it up), and by one o'clock reached the right quotation.
The excitement was prodigious. New Street,
as well as Broad Street, was jammed with excited
people. I sat on the top of the Western Union telegraph
booth to watch the surging, crazy crowd. One
man came to the booth, grabbed a pencil, and
attempted to write a message to Boston. The first
stroke went clear off the blank; he was so excited that
he had the operator write the message for him. Amid
great excitement Speyer, the banker, went crazy and
it took five men to hold him; and everybody lost their
head. The Western Union operator came to me and
said: `Shake, Edison, we are O. K. We haven't got
a cent.' I felt very happy because we were poor.
These occasions are very enjoyable to a poor man;
but they occur rarely."

There is a calm sense of detachment about this
description that has been possessed by the narrator
even in the most anxious moments of his career. He
was determined to see all that could be seen, and,
quitting his perch on the telegraph booth, sought the
more secluded headquarters of the pool forces. "A
friend of mine was an operator who worked in the
office of Belden & Company, 60 Broadway, which
were headquarters for Fisk. Mr. Gould was up-town
in the Erie offices in the Grand Opera House. The firm
on Broad Street, Smith, Gould & Martin, was the other
branch. All were connected with wires. Gould seemed
to be in charge, Fisk being the executive down-town.
Fisk wore a velvet corduroy coat and a very peculiar
vest. He was very chipper, and seemed to be light-
hearted and happy. Sitting around the room were
about a dozen fine-looking men. All had the complexion
of cadavers. There was a basket of cham-
pagne. Hundreds of boys were rushing in paying
checks, all checks being payable to Belden & Company.
When James Brown, of Brown Brothers &
Company, broke the corner by selling five million
gold, all payments were repudiated by Smith, Gould
& Martin; but they continued to receive checks at
Belden & Company's for some time, until the Street
got wind of the game. There was some kind of conspiracy
with the Government people which I could
not make out, but I heard messages that opened my
eyes as to the ramifications of Wall Street. Gold fell
to 132, and it took us all night to get the indicator
back to that quotation. All night long the streets
were full of people. Every broker's office was brilliantly
lighted all night, and all hands were at work.
The clearing-house for gold had been swamped, and
all was mixed up. No one knew if he was bankrupt
or not."

Edison in those days rather liked the modest coffee-
shops, and mentions visiting one. "When on the
New York No. 1 wire, that I worked in Boston, there
was an operator named Jerry Borst at the other end.
He was a first-class receiver and rapid sender. We
made up a scheme to hold this wire, so he changed
one letter of the alphabet and I soon got used to it;
and finally we changed three letters. If any operator
tried to receive from Borst, he couldn't do it, so Borst
and I always worked together. Borst did less talking
than any operator I ever knew. Never having seen
him, I went while in New York to call upon him. I
did all the talking. He would listen, stroke his
beard, and say nothing. In the evening I went over
to an all-night lunch-house in Printing House Square
in a basement--Oliver's. Night editors, including
Horace Greeley, and Henry Raymond, of the New
York Times, took their midnight lunch there. When
I went with Borst and another operator, they pointed
out two or three men who were then celebrated in the
newspaper world. The night was intensely hot and
close. After getting our lunch and upon reaching the
sidewalk, Borst opened his mouth, and said: `That's
a great place; a plate of cakes, a cup of coffee, and
a Russian bath, for ten cents.' This was about fifty
per cent. of his conversation for two days."

The work of Edison on the gold-indicator had
thrown him into close relationship with Mr. Franklin
L. Pope, the young telegraph engineer then associated
with Doctor Laws, and afterward a distinguished
expert and technical writer, who became
President of the American Institute of Electrical
Engineers in 1886. Each recognized the special ability
of the other, and barely a week after the famous
events of Black Friday the announcement of their
partnership appeared in the Telegrapher of October
1, 1869. This was the first "professional card," if
it may be so described, ever issued in America by a
firm of electrical engineers, and is here reproduced.
It is probable that the advertisement, one of the largest
in the Telegrapher, and appearing frequently, was
not paid for at full rates, as the publisher, Mr. J. N.
Ashley, became a partner in the firm, and not altogether
a "sleeping one" when it came to a division
of profits, which at times were considerable. In
order to be nearer his new friend Edison boarded with
Pope at Elizabeth, New Jersey, for some time, living
"the strenuous life" in the performance of his duties.
Associated with Pope and Ashley, he followed up his
work on telegraph printers with marked success.
"While with them I devised a printer to print gold
quotations instead of indicating them. The lines were
started, and the whole was sold out to the Gold &
Stock Telegraph Company. My experimenting was
all done in the small shop of a Doctor Bradley,
located near the station of the Pennsylvania Railroad
in Jersey City. Every night I left for Elizabeth on
the 1 A.M. train, then walked half a mile to Mr. Pope's
house and up at 6 A.M. for breakfast to catch the
7 A.M. train. This continued all winter, and many
were the occasions when I was nearly frozen in the
Elizabeth walk." This Doctor Bradley appears to
have been the first in this country to make electrical
measurements of precision with the galvanometer,
but was an old-school experimenter who would work
for years on an instrument without commercial value.
He was also extremely irascible, and when on one
occasion the connecting wire would not come out of
one of the binding posts of a new and costly galvanometer,
he jerked the instrument to the floor and then
jumped on it. He must have been, however, a man
of originality, as evidenced by his attempt to age
whiskey by electricity, an attempt that has often
since been made. "The hobby he had at the time
I was there," says Edison, "was the aging of raw
whiskey by passing strong electric currents through
it. He had arranged twenty jars with platinum
electrodes held in place by hard rubber. When all
was ready, he filled the cells with whiskey, connected
the battery, locked the door of the small room in
which they were placed, and gave positive orders
that no one should enter. He then disappeared for
three days. On the second day we noticed a terrible
smell in the shop, as if from some dead animal. The
next day the doctor arrived and, noticing the smell,
asked what was dead. We all thought something
had got into his whiskey-room and died. He opened
it and was nearly overcome. The hard rubber he
used was, of course, full of sulphur, and this being
attacked by the nascent hydrogen, had produced
sulphuretted hydrogen gas in torrents, displacing all
of the air in the room. Sulphuretted hydrogen is,
as is well known, the gas given off by rotten eggs."

Another glimpse of this period of development is
afforded by an interesting article on the stock-reporting
telegraph in the Electrical World of March 4, 1899,
by Mr. Ralph W. Pope, the well-known Secretary of
the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, who
had as a youth an active and intimate connection
with that branch of electrical industry. In the course
of his article he mentions the curious fact that Doctor
Laws at first, in receiving quotations from the Exchanges,
was so distrustful of the Morse system that
he installed long lines of speaking-tube as a more
satisfactory and safe device than a telegraph wire.
As to the relations of that time Mr. Pope remarks:
"The rivalry between the two concerns resulted in
consolidation, Doctor Laws's enterprise being
absorbed by the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company,
while the Laws stock printer was relegated to the
scrap-heap and the museum. Competition in the
field did not, however, cease. Messrs. Pope and
Edison invented a one-wire printer, and started a
system of `gold printers' devoted to the recording
of gold quotations and sterling exchange only. It
was intended more especially for importers and
exchange brokers, and was furnished at a lower price
than the indicator service.... The building and
equipment of private telegraph lines was also entered
upon. This business was also subsequently absorbed
by the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company, which was
probably at this time at the height of its prosperity.
The financial organization of the company was peculiar
and worthy of attention. Each subscriber for
a machine paid in $100 for the privilege of securing
an instrument. For the service he paid $25 weekly.
In case he retired or failed, he could transfer his
`right,' and employees were constantly on the alert
for purchasable rights, which could be disposed of
at a profit. It was occasionally worth the profit to
convince a man that he did not actually own the
machine which had been placed in his office.... The
Western Union Telegraph Company secured a majority
of its stock, and Gen. Marshall Lefferts was
elected president. A private-line department was
established, and the business taken over from Pope,
Edison, and Ashley was rapidly enlarged."

At this juncture General Lefferts, as President of
the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company, requested
Edison to go to work on improving the stock ticker,
furnishing the money; and the well-known "Universal"
ticker, in wide-spread use in its day, was one
result. Mr. Edison gives a graphic picture of the
startling effect on his fortunes: "I made a great many
inventions; one was the special ticker used for many
years outside of New York in the large cities. This
was made exceedingly simple, as they did not have
the experts we had in New York to handle anything
complicated. The same ticker was used on the London
Stock Exchange. After I had made a great number
of inventions and obtained patents, the General
seemed anxious that the matter should be closed up.
One day I exhibited and worked a successful device
whereby if a ticker should get out of unison in a
broker's office and commence to print wild figures,
it could be brought to unison from the central station,
which saved the labor of many men and much trouble
to the broker. He called me into his office, and said:
`Now, young man, I want to close up the matter of
your inventions. How much do you think you should
receive?' I had made up my mind that, taking into
consideration the time and killing pace I was working
at, I should be entitled to $5000, but could get along
with $3000. When the psychological moment arrived,
I hadn't the nerve to name such a large sum,
so I said: `Well, General, suppose you make me an
offer.' Then he said: `How would $40,000 strike
you?' This caused me to come as near fainting as I
ever got. I was afraid he would hear my heart beat.
I managed to say that I thought it was fair. `All
right, I will have a contract drawn; come around in
three days and sign it, and I will give you the money.'
I arrived on time, but had been doing some considerable
thinking on the subject. The sum seemed to
be very large for the amount of work, for at that time
I determined the value by the time and trouble, and
not by what the invention was worth to others. I
thought there was something unreal about it. However,
the contract was handed to me. I signed without
reading it." Edison was then handed the first
check he had ever received, one for $40,000 drawn
on the Bank of New York, at the corner of William
and Wall Streets. On going to the bank and passing
in the check at the wicket of the paying teller, some
brief remarks were made to him, which in his deafness
he did not understand. The check was handed
back to him, and Edison, fancying for a moment that
in some way he had been cheated, went outside "to
the large steps to let the cold sweat evaporate." He
then went back to the General, who, with his secretary,
had a good laugh over the matter, told him the check
must be endorsed, and sent with him a young man
to identify him. The ceremony of identification
performed with the paying teller, who was quite merry
over the incident, Edison was given the amount in
bundles of small bills "until there certainly seemed
to be one cubic foot." Unaware that he was the victim
of a practical joke, Edison proceeded gravely to
stow away the money in his overcoat pockets and all
his other pockets. He then went to Newark and sat
up all night with the money for fear it might be
stolen. Once more he sought help next morning,
when the General laughed heartily, and, telling the
clerk that the joke must not be carried any further,
enabled him to deposit the currency in the bank and
open an account.

Thus in an inconceivably brief time had Edison
passed from poverty to independence; made a deep
impression as to his originality and ability on
important people, and brought out valuable inventions;
lifting himself at one bound out of the ruck of
mediocrity, and away from the deadening drudgery of the
key. Best of all he was enterprising, one of the
leaders and pioneers for whom the world is always
looking; and, to use his own criticism of himself, he
had "too sanguine a temperament to keep money
in solitary confinement." With quiet self-possession
he seized his opportunity, began to buy machinery,
rented a shop and got work for it. Moving quickly
into a larger shop, Nos. 10 and 12 Ward Street,
Newark, New Jersey, he secured large orders from
General Lefferts to build stock tickers, and employed
fifty men. As business increased he put on a night
force, and was his own foreman on both shifts. Half
an hour of sleep three or four times in the twenty-
four hours was all he needed in those days, when one
invention succeeded another with dazzling rapidity,
and when he worked with the fierce, eruptive energy
of a great volcano, throwing out new ideas incessantly
with spectacular effect on the arts to which they
related. It has always been a theory with Edison that
we sleep altogether too much; but on the other hand
he never, until long past fifty, knew or practiced the
slightest moderation in work or in the use of strong
coffee and black cigars. He has, moreover, while
of tender and kindly disposition, never hesitated to
use men up as freely as a Napoleon or Grant; seeing
only the goal of a complete invention or perfected de-
vice, to attain which all else must become subsidiary.
He gives a graphic picture of his first methods as a
manufacturer: "Nearly all my men were on piece
work, and I allowed them to make good wages, and
never cut until the pay became absurdly high as they
got more expert. I kept no books. I had two hooks.
All the bills and accounts I owed I jabbed on one
hook; and memoranda of all owed to myself I put
on the other. When some of the bills fell due, and
I couldn't deliver tickers to get a supply of money, I
gave a note. When the notes were due, a messenger
came around from the bank with the note and a
protest pinned to it for $1.25. Then I would go to
New York and get an advance, or pay the note if I
had the money. This method of giving notes for
my accounts and having all notes protested I kept
up over two years, yet my credit was fine. Every
store I traded with was always glad to furnish goods,
perhaps in amazed admiration of my system of doing
business, which was certainly new." After a while
Edison got a bookkeeper, whose vagaries made him
look back with regret on the earlier, primitive method.
"The first three months I had him go over the books
to find out how much we had made. He reported
$3000. I gave a supper to some of my men to celebrate
this, only to be told two days afterward that
he had made a mistake, and that we had lost $500; and
then a few days after that he came to me again and
said he was all mixed up, and now found that we had
made over $7000." Edison changed bookkeepers, but
never thereafter counted anything real profit until he
had paid all his debts and had the profits in the bank.

The factory work at this time related chiefly to
stock tickers, principally the "Universal," of which
at one time twelve hundred were in use. Edison's
connection with this particular device was very
close while it lasted. In a review of the ticker art,
Mr. Callahan stated, with rather grudging praise,
that "a ticker at the present time (1901) would be
considered as impracticable and unsalable if it were
not provided with a unison device," and he goes on
to remark: "The first unison on stock tickers was
one used on the Laws printer.[2] It was a crude and
unsatisfactory piece of mechanism and necessitated
doubling of the battery in order to bring it into action.
It was short-lived. The Edison unison comprised a
lever with a free end travelling in a spiral or worm
on the type-wheel shaft until it met a pin at the end
of the worm, thus obstructing the shaft and leaving
the type-wheels at the zero-point until released by
the printing lever. This device is too well known to
require a further description. It is not applicable
to any instrument using two independently moving
type-wheels; but on nearly if not all other instruments
will be found in use." The stock ticker has
enjoyed the devotion of many brilliant inventors--
G. M. Phelps, H. Van Hoevenbergh, A. A. Knudson,
G. B. Scott, S. D. Field, John Burry--and remains in
extensive use as an appliance for which no substitute
or competitor has been found. In New York the
two great stock exchanges have deemed it necessary
to own and operate a stock-ticker service for the sole
benefit of their members; and down to the present
moment the process of improvement has gone on,
impelled by the increasing volume of business to be
reported. It is significant of Edison's work, now
dimmed and overlaid by later advances, that at the
very outset he recognized the vital importance of
interchangeability in the construction of this delicate
and sensitive apparatus. But the difficulties of these
early days were almost insurmountable. Mr. R. W.
Pope says of the "Universal" machines that they were
simple and substantial and generally satisfactory,
but adds: "These instruments were supposed to have
been made with interchangeable parts; but as a
matter of fact the instances in which these parts
would fit were very few. The instruction-book prepared
for the use of inspectors stated that `The parts
should not be tinkered nor bent, as they are accurately
made and interchangeable.' The difficulties encountered
in fitting them properly doubtless gave rise to a
story that Mr. Edison had stated that there were three
degrees of interchangeability. This was interpreted to
mean: First, the parts will fit; second, they will almost
fit; third, they do not fit, and can't be made to fit."

[2] This I invented as well.--T. A. E.

This early shop affords an illustration of the manner
in which Edison has made a deep impression on the
personnel of the electrical arts. At a single bench
there worked three men since rich or prominent.
One was Sigmund Bergmann, for a time partner with
Edison in his lighting developments in the United
States, and now head and principal owner of electrical
works in Berlin employing ten thousand men. The
next man adjacent was John Kruesi, afterward engineer
of the great General Electric Works at
Schenectady. A third was Schuckert, who left the
bench to settle up his father's little estate at Nuremberg,
stayed there and founded electrical factories,
which became the third largest in Germany, their
proprietor dying very wealthy. "I gave them a good
training as to working hours and hustling," says their
quondam master; and this is equally true as applied
to many scores of others working in companies bearing
the Edison name or organized under Edison
patents. It is curiously significant in this connection
that of the twenty-one presidents of the national
society, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers,
founded in 1884, eight have been intimately
associated with Edison--namely, Norvin Green and
F. L. Pope, as business colleagues of the days of which
we now write; while Messrs. Frank J. Sprague, T. C.
Martin, A. E. Kennelly, S. S. Wheeler, John W.
Lieb, Jr., and Louis A. Ferguson have all been at one
time or another in the Edison employ. The remark
was once made that if a famous American teacher
sat at one end of a log and a student at the other end,
the elements of a successful university were present.
It is equally true that in Edison and the many men
who have graduated from his stern school of endeavor,
America has had its foremost seat of electrical



WORK of various kinds poured in upon the young
manufacturer, busy also with his own schemes
and inventions, which soon began to follow so many
distinct lines of inquiry that it ceases to be easy or
necessary for the historian to treat them all in
chronological sequence. Some notion of his ceaseless
activity may be formed from the fact that he started no
fewer than three shops in Newark during 1870-71,
and while directing these was also engaged by the
men who controlled the Automatic Telegraph Company
of New York, which had a circuit to Washington,
to help it out of its difficulties. "Soon after
starting the large shop (10 and 12 Ward Street,
Newark), I rented shop-room to the inventor of a
new rifle. I think it was the Berdan. In any event,
it was a rifle which was subsequently adopted by the
British Army. The inventor employed a tool-maker
who was the finest and best tool-maker I had ever
seen. I noticed that he worked pretty near the
whole of the twenty-four hours. This kind of application
I was looking for. He was getting $21.50 per
week, and was also paid for overtime. I asked him
if he could run the shop. `I don't know; try me!' he
said. `All right, I will give you $60 per week to run
both shifts.' He went at it. His executive ability
was greater than that of any other man I have yet
seen. His memory was prodigious, conversation
laconic, and movements rapid. He doubled the production
inside three months, without materially increasing
the pay-roll, by increasing the cutting speeds
of tools, and by the use of various devices. When in
need of rest he would lie down on a work-bench,
sleep twenty or thirty minutes, and wake up fresh.
As this was just what I could do, I naturally conceived
a great pride in having such a man in charge
of my work. But almost everything has trouble connected
with it. He disappeared one day, and although
I sent men everywhere that it was likely he
could be found, he was not discovered. After two
weeks he came into the factory in a terrible condition
as to clothes and face. He sat down and, turning to
me, said: `Edison, it's no use, this is the third time;
I can't stand prosperity. Put my salary back and
give me a job.' I was very sorry to learn that it was
whiskey that spoiled such a career. I gave him an
inferior job and kept him for a long time."

Edison had now entered definitely upon that career
as an inventor which has left so deep an imprint on
the records of the United States Patent Office, where
from his first patent in 1869 up to the summer of 1910
no fewer than 1328 separate patents have been applied
for in his name, averaging thirty-two every
year, and one about every eleven days; with a
substantially corresponding number issued. The
height of this inventive activity was attained
about 1882, in which year no fewer than 141 pat-
ents were applied for, and seventy-five granted to
him, or nearly nine times as many as in 1876, when
invention as a profession may be said to have been
adopted by this prolific genius. It will be understood,
of course, that even these figures do not represent
the full measure of actual invention, as in every
process and at every step there were many discoveries
that were not brought to patent registration, but
remained "trade secrets." And furthermore, that in
practically every case the actual patented invention
followed from one to a dozen or more gradually developing
forms of the same idea.

An Englishman named George Little had brought
over a system of automatic telegraphy which worked
well on a short line, but was a failure when put upon
the longer circuits for which automatic methods are
best adapted. The general principle involved in
automatic or rapid telegraphs, except the photographic
ones, is that of preparing the message in
advance, for dispatch, by perforating narrow strips of
paper with holes--work which can be done either by
hand-punches or by typewriter apparatus. A certain
group of perforations corresponds to a Morse
group of dots and dashes for a letter of the alphabet.
When the tape thus made ready is run rapidly through
a transmitting machine, electrical contact occurs
wherever there is a perforation, permitting the current
from the battery to flow into the line and thus
transmit signals correspondingly. At the distant end
these signals are received sometimes on an ink-writing
recorder as dots and dashes, or even as typewriting
letters; but in many of the earlier systems, like that
of Bain, the record at the higher rates of speed was
effected by chemical means, a tell-tale stain being
made on the travelling strip of paper by every spurt
of incoming current. Solutions of potassium iodide
were frequently used for this purpose, giving a sharp,
blue record, but fading away too rapidly.

The Little system had perforating apparatus operated
by electromagnets; its transmitting machine
was driven by a small electromagnetic motor; and
the record was made by electrochemical decomposition,
the writing member being a minute platinum
roller instead of the more familiar iron stylus. Moreover,
a special type of wire had been put up for the
single circuit of two hundred and eighty miles between
New York and Washington. This is believed to have
been the first "compound" wire made for telegraphic
or other signalling purposes, the object being to secure
greater lightness with textile strength and high
conductivity. It had a steel core, with a copper ribbon
wound spirally around it, and tinned to the core wire.
But the results obtained were poor, and in their
necessity the parties in interest turned to Edison.

Mr. E. H. Johnson tells of the conditions: "Gen.
W. J. Palmer and some New York associates had
taken up the Little automatic system and had expended
quite a sum in its development, when, thinking
they had reduced it to practice, they got Tom
Scott, of the Pennsylvania Railroad to send his
superintendent of telegraph over to look into and
report upon it. Of course he turned it down. The
syndicate was appalled at this report, and in this
extremity General Palmer thought of the man who
had impressed him as knowing it all by the telling
of telegraphic tales as a means of whiling away lonesome
hours on the plains of Colorado, where they
were associated in railroad-building. So this man--
it was I--was sent for to come to New York and
assuage their grief if possible. My report was that
the system was sound fundamentally, that it contained
the germ of a good thing, but needed working
out. Associated with General Palmer was one Col.
Josiah C. Reiff, then Eastern bond agent for the
Kansas Pacific Railroad. The Colonel was always
resourceful, and didn't fail in this case. He knew of
a young fellow who was doing some good work for
Marshall Lefferts, and who it was said was a genius
at invention, and a very fiend for work. His name
was Edison, and he had a shop out at Newark, New
Jersey. He came and was put in my care for the
purpose of a mutual exchange of ideas and for a report
by me as to his competency in the matter. This was
my introduction to Edison. He confirmed my views
of the automatic system. He saw its possibilities,
as well as the chief obstacles to be overcome--viz.,
the sluggishness of the wire, together with the need
of mechanical betterment of the apparatus; and he
agreed to take the job on one condition--namely,
that Johnson would stay and help, as `he was a man
with ideas.' Mr. Johnson was accordingly given
three months' leave from Colorado railroad-building,
and has never seen Colorado since."

Applying himself to the difficulties with wonted
energy, Edison devised new apparatus, and solved
the problem to such an extent that he and his as-
sistants succeeded in transmitting and recording one
thousand words per minute between New York and
Washington, and thirty-five hundred words per
minute to Philadelphia. Ordinary manual transmission
by key is not in excess of forty to fifty words
a minute. Stated very briefly, Edison's principal
contribution to the commercial development of the
automatic was based on the observation that in a
line of considerable length electrical impulses become
enormously extended, or sluggish, due to a
phenomenon known as self-induction, which with
ordinary Morse work is in a measure corrected
by condensers. But in the automatic the aim was
to deal with impulses following each other from
twenty-five to one hundred times as rapidly as in
Morse lines, and to attempt to receive and record
intelligibly such a lightning-like succession of signals would
have seemed impossible. But Edison discovered that
by utilizing a shunt around the receiving instrument,
with a soft iron core, the self-induction would produce
a momentary and instantaneous reversal of the
current at the end of each impulse, and thereby give
an absolutely sharp definition to each signal. This
discovery did away entirely with sluggishness, and
made it possible to secure high speeds over lines of
comparatively great lengths. But Edison's work on
the automatic did not stop with this basic suggestion,
for he took up and perfected the mechanical construction
of the instruments, as well as the perforators,
and also suggested numerous electrosensitive
chemicals for the receivers, so that the automatic
telegraph, almost entirely by reason of his individual
work, was placed on a plane of commercial practicability.
The long line of patents secured by him
in this art is an interesting exhibit of the development
of a germ to a completed system, not, as is
usually the case, by numerous inventors working
over considerable periods of time, but by one man
evolving the successive steps at a white heat of

This system was put in commercial operation, but
the company, now encouraged, was quite willing to
allow Edison to work out his idea of an automatic
that would print the message in bold Roman letters
instead of in dots and dashes; with consequent gain
in speed in delivery of the message after its receipt
in the operating-room, it being obviously necessary
in the case of any message received in Morse characters
to copy it in script before delivery to the recipient.
A large shop was rented in Newark, equipped with
$25,000 worth of machinery, and Edison was given
full charge. Here he built their original type of
apparatus, as improved, and also pushed his experiments
on the letter system so far that at a test, between
New York and Philadelphia, three thousand words
were sent in one minute and recorded in Roman type.
Mr. D. N. Craig, one of the early organizers of the
Associated Press, became interested in this company,
whose president was Mr. George Harrington, formerly
Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury.

Mr. Craig brought with him at this time--the early
seventies--from Milwaukee a Mr. Sholes, who had a
wooden model of a machine to which had been given the
then new and unfamiliar name of "typewriter." Craig
was interested in the machine, and put the model in
Edison's hands to perfect. "This typewriter proved a
difficult thing," says Edison, "to make commercial.
The alignment of the letters was awful. One letter
would be one-sixteenth of an inch above the others;
and all the letters wanted to wander out of line. I
worked on it till the machine gave fair results.[3] Some
were made and used in the office of the Automatic
company. Craig was very sanguine that some day all
business letters would be written on a typewriter.
He died before that took place; but it gradually
made its way. The typewriter I got into commercial
shape is now known as the Remington. About this
time I got an idea I could devise an apparatus by
which four messages could simultaneously be sent
over a single wire without interfering with each other.
I now had five shops, and with experimenting on this
new scheme I was pretty busy; at least I did not
have ennui."

[3] See illustration on opposite page, showing reproduction of the
work done with this machine.

A very interesting picture of Mr. Edison at this time
is furnished by Mr. Patrick B. Delany, a well-known
inventor in the field of automatic and multiplex
telegraphy, who at that time was a chief operator of the
Franklin Telegraph Company at Philadelphia. His
remark about Edison that "his ingenuity inspired
confidence, and wavering financiers stiffened up when
it became known that he was to develop the automatic"
is a noteworthy evidence of the manner in
which the young inventor had already gained a firm
footing. He continues: "Edward H. Johnson was
brought on from the Denver & Rio Grande Railway
to assist in the practical introduction of automatic
telegraphy on a commercial basis, and about this
time, in 1872, I joined the enterprise. Fairly good
results were obtained between New York and Washington,
and Edison, indifferent to theoretical difficulties,
set out to prove high speeds between New
York and Charleston, South Carolina, the compound
wire being hitched up to one of the Southern &
Atlantic wires from Washington to Charleston for
the purpose of experimentation. Johnson and I
went to the Charleston end to carry out Edison's
plans, which were rapidly unfolded by telegraph
every night from a loft on lower Broadway, New
York. We could only get the wire after all business
was cleared, usually about midnight, and for months,
in the quiet hours, that wire was subjected to more
electrical acrobatics than any other wire ever
experienced. When the experiments ended, Edison's
system was put into regular commercial operation
between New York and Washington; and did fine
work. If the single wire had not broken about every
other day, the venture would have been a financial
success; but moisture got in between the copper ribbon
and the steel core, setting up galvanic action
which made short work of the steel. The demonstration
was, however, sufficiently successful to impel
Jay Gould to contract to pay about $4,000,000 in stock
for the patents. The contract was never completed so
far as the $4,000,000 were concerned, but Gould made
good use of it in getting control of the Western Union."

One of the most important persons connected with
the automatic enterprise was Mr. George Harrington,
to whom we have above referred, and with whom Mr.
Edison entered into close confidential relations, so
that the inventions made were held jointly, under a
partnership deed covering "any inventions or
improvements that may be useful or desired in
automatic telegraphy." Mr. Harrington was assured at
the outset by Edison that while the Little perforator
would give on the average only seven or eight words
per minute, which was not enough for commercial
purposes, he could devise one giving fifty or sixty
words, and that while the Little solution for the
receiving tape cost $15 to $17 per gallon, he could
furnish a ferric solution costing only five or six cents
per gallon. In every respect Edison "made good,"
and in a short time the system was a success, "Mr.
Little having withdrawn his obsolete perforator, his
ineffective resistance, his costly chemical solution, to
give place to Edison's perforator, Edison's resistance
and devices, and Edison's solution costing a few cents
per gallon. But," continues Mr. Harrington, in a
memorable affidavit, "the inventive efforts of Mr.
Edison were not confined to automatic telegraphy,
nor did they cease with the opening of that line to
Washington." They all led up to the quadruplex.

Flattered by their success, Messrs. Harrington and
Reiff, who owned with Edison the foreign patents for
the new automatic system, entered into an arrangement
with the British postal telegraph authorities
for a trial of the system in England, involving its
probable adoption if successful. Edison was sent to
England to make the demonstration, in 1873, reporting
there to Col. George E. Gouraud, who had been
an associate in the United States Treasury with Mr.
Harrington, and was now connected with the new
enterprise. With one small satchel of clothes, three
large boxes of instruments, and a bright fellow-
telegrapher named Jack Wright, he took voyage on the
Jumping Java, as she was humorously known, of
the Cunard line. The voyage was rough and the
little Java justified her reputation by jumping all
over the ocean. "At the table," says Edison, "there
were never more than ten or twelve people. I wondered
at the time how it could pay to run an ocean
steamer with so few people; but when we got into
calm water and could see the green fields, I was
astounded to see the number of people who appeared.
There were certainly two or three hundred. I learned
afterward that they were mostly going to the Vienna
Exposition. Only two days could I get on deck, and
on one of these a gentleman had a bad scalp wound
from being thrown against the iron wall of a small
smoking-room erected over a freight hatch."

Arrived in London, Edison set up his apparatus at
the Telegraph Street headquarters, and sent his companion
to Liverpool with the instruments for that
end. The condition of the test was that he was to
send from Liverpool and receive in London, and to
record at the rate of one thousand words per minute,
five hundred words to be sent every half hour for six
hours. Edison was given a wire and batteries to
operate with, but a preliminary test soon showed that
he was going to fail. Both wire and batteries were
poor, and one of the men detailed by the authorities
to watch the test remarked quietly, in a friendly way:
"You are not going to have much show. They are
going to give you an old Bridgewater Canal wire that
is so poor we don't work it, and a lot of `sand batteries'
at Liverpool."[4] The situation was rather depressing
to the young American thus encountering,
for the first time, the stolid conservatism and opposition
to change that characterizes so much of official
life and methods in Europe. "I thanked him," says
Edison, "and hoped to reciprocate somehow. I knew
I was in a hole. I had been staying at a little hotel
in Covent Garden called the Hummums! and got
nothing but roast beef and flounders, and my imagination
was getting into a coma. What I needed was
pastry. That night I found a French pastry shop
in High Holborn Street and filled up. My imagination
got all right. Early in the morning I saw
Gouraud, stated my case, and asked if he would stand
for the purchase of a powerful battery to send to
Liverpool. He said `Yes.' I went immediately to
Apps on the Strand and asked if he had a powerful
battery. He said he hadn't; that all that he had
was Tyndall's Royal Institution battery, which he
supposed would not serve. I saw it--one hundred
cells--and getting the price--one hundred guineas--
hurried to Gouraud. He said `Go ahead.' I telegraphed
to the man in Liverpool. He came on, got
the battery to Liverpool, set up and ready, just two
hours before the test commenced. One of the principal
things that made the system a success was that
the line was put to earth at the sending end through
a magnet, and the extra current from this, passed to
the line, served to sharpen the recording waves. This
new battery was strong enough to pass a powerful
current through the magnet without materially
diminishing the strength of the line current."

[4] The sand battery is now obsolete. In this type, the cell
containing the elements was filled with sand, which was kept moist
with an electrolyte.

The test under these more favorable circumstances
was a success. "The record was as perfect as copper
plate, and not a single remark was made in the `time
lost' column." Edison was now asked if he thought
he could get a greater speed through submarine cables
with this system than with the regular methods, and
replied that he would like a chance to try it. For
this purpose, twenty-two hundred miles of Brazilian
cable then stored under water in tanks at the Greenwich
works of the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance
Company, near London, was placed at his
disposal from 8 P.M. until 6 A.M. "This just suited
me, as I preferred night-work. I got my apparatus
down and set up, and then to get a preliminary idea
of what the distortion of the signal would be, I sent
a single dot, which should have been recorded upon my
automatic paper by a mark about one-thirty-second of
an inch long. Instead of that it was twenty-seven feet
long! If I ever had any conceit, it vanished from
my boots up. I worked on this cable more than two
weeks, and the best I could do was two words per
minute, which was only one-seventh of what the
guaranteed speed of the cable should be when laid.
What I did not know at the time was that a coiled
cable, owing to induction, was infinitely worse than
when laid out straight, and that my speed was as
good as, if not better than, with the regular system;
but no one told me this." While he was engaged on
these tests Colonel Gouraud came down one night to
visit him at the lonely works, spent a vigil with him,
and toward morning wanted coffee. There was only
one little inn near by, frequented by longshoremen and
employees from the soap-works and cement-factories
--a rough lot--and there at daybreak they went as
soon as the other customers had left for work. "The
place had a bar and six bare tables, and was simply
infested with roaches. The only things that I ever
could get were coffee made from burnt bread, with
brown molasses-cake. I ordered these for Gouraud.
The taste of the coffee, the insects, etc., were too
much. He fainted. I gave him a big dose of gin,
and this revived him. He went back to the works
and waited until six when the day men came, and
telegraphed for a carriage. He lost all interest in
the experiments after that, and I was ordered back
to America." Edison states, however, that the automatic
was finally adopted in England and used for
many years; indeed, is still in use there. But they
took whatever was needed from his system, and he
"has never had a cent from them."

Arduous work was at once resumed at home on
duplex and quadruplex telegraphy, just as though
there had been no intermission or discouragement
over dots twenty-seven feet long. A clue to his activity
is furnished in the fact that in 1872 he had
applied for thirty-eight patents in the class of teleg-
raphy, and twenty-five in 1873; several of these
being for duplex methods, on which he had experimented.
The earlier apparatus had been built several
years prior to this, as shown by a curious little
item of news that appeared in the Telegrapher of
January 30, 1869: "T. A. Edison has resigned his
situation in the Western Union office, Boston, and will
devote his time to bringing out his inventions."
Oh, the supreme, splendid confidence of youth! Six
months later, as we have seen, he had already made
his mark, and the same journal, in October, 1869,
could say: "Mr. Edison is a young man of the highest
order of mechanical talent, combined with good
scientific electrical knowledge and experience. He
has already invented and patented a number of
valuable and useful inventions, among which may
be mentioned the best instrument for double transmission
yet brought out." Not bad for a novice of
twenty-two. It is natural, therefore, after his
intervening work on indicators, stock tickers, automatic
telegraphs, and typewriters, to find him harking back
to duplex telegraphy, if, indeed, he can be said to have
dropped it in the interval. It has always been one of
the characteristic features of Edison's method of
inventing that work in several lines has gone forward
at the same time. No one line of investigation has
ever been enough to occupy his thoughts fully; or
to express it otherwise, he has found rest in turning
from one field of work to another, having absolutely
no recreations or hobbies, and not needing them. It
may also be said that, once entering it, Mr. Edison
has never abandoned any field of work. He may
change the line of attack; he may drop the subject
for a time; but sooner or later the note-books or the
Patent Office will bear testimony to the reminiscent
outcropping of latent thought on the matter. His
attention has shifted chronologically, and by process
of evolution, from one problem to another, and some
results are found to be final; but the interest of the
man in the thing never dies out. No one sees more
vividly than he the fact that in the interplay of the
arts one industry shapes and helps another, and that
no invention lives to itself alone.

The path to the quadruplex lay through work on
the duplex, which, suggested first by Moses G. Farmer
in 1852, had been elaborated by many ingenious
inventors, notably in this country by Stearns, before
Edison once again applied his mind to it. The different
methods of such multiple transmission--namely,
the simultaneous dispatch of the two communications
in opposite directions over the same wire, or the
dispatch of both at once in the same direction--gave
plenty of play to ingenuity. Prescott's Elements of
the Electric Telegraph, a standard work in its day,
described "a method of simultaneous transmission
invented by T. A. Edison, of New Jersey, in 1873,"
and says of it: "Its peculiarity consists in the fact
that the signals are transmitted in one direction by
reversing the polarity of a constant current, and in
the opposite direction by increasing or decreasing
the strength of the same current." Herein lay the
germ of the Edison quadruplex. It is also noted that
"In 1874 Edison invented a method of simultaneous
transmission by induced currents, which has given
very satisfactory results in experimental trials." Interest
in the duplex as a field of invention dwindled,
however, as the quadruplex loomed up, for while
the one doubled the capacity of a circuit, the latter
created three "phantom wires," and thus quadruplexed
the working capacity of any line to which
it was applied. As will have been gathered from the
above, the principle embodied in the quadruplex is
that of working over the line with two currents from
each end that differ from each other in strength or
nature, so that they will affect only instruments
adapted to respond to just such currents and no
others; and by so arranging the receiving apparatus
as not to be affected by the currents transmitted from
its own end of the line. Thus by combining instruments
that respond only to variation in the strength
of current from the distant station, with instruments
that respond only to the change in the direction of
current from the distant station, and by grouping a
pair of these at each end of the line, the quadruplex
is the result. Four sending and four receiving operators
are kept busy at each end, or eight in all. Aside
from other material advantages, it is estimated that
at least from $15,000,000 to $20,000,000 has been
saved by the Edison quadruplex merely in the cost
of line construction in America.

The quadruplex has not as a rule the same working
efficiency that four separate wires have. This is due
to the fact that when one of the receiving operators
is compelled to "break" the sending operator for any
reason, the "break" causes the interruption of the
work of eight operators, instead of two, as would be
the case on a single wire. The working efficiency of
the quadruplex, therefore, with the apparatus in good
working condition, depends entirely upon the skill
of the operators employed to operate it. But this
does not reflect upon or diminish the ingenuity required
for its invention. Speaking of the problem
involved, Edison said some years later to Mr. Upton,
his mathematical assistant, that "he always considered
he was only working from one room to another.
Thus he was not confused by the amount of wire and
the thought of distance."

The immense difficulties of reducing such a system
to practice may be readily conceived, especially when
it is remembered that the "line" itself, running across
hundreds of miles of country, is subject to all manner
of atmospheric conditions, and varies from moment
to moment in its ability to carry current, and also
when it is borne in mind that the quadruplex requires
at each end of the line a so-called "artificial line,"
which must have the exact resistance of the working
line and must be varied with the variations in resistance
of the working line. At this juncture other
schemes were fermenting in his brain; but the
quadruplex engrossed him. "This problem was of most
difficult and complicated kind, and I bent all my
energies toward its solution. It required a peculiar
effort of the mind, such as the imagining of eight
different things moving simultaneously on a mental
plane, without anything to demonstrate their
efficiency." It is perhaps hardly to be wondered at
that when notified he would have to pay 12 1/2 per cent.
extra if his taxes in Newark were not at once paid,
he actually forgot his own name when asked for it
suddenly at the City Hall, lost his place in the line,
and, the fatal hour striking, had to pay the surcharge
after all!

So important an invention as the quadruplex could
not long go begging, but there were many difficulties
connected with its introduction, some of which are
best described in Mr. Edison's own words: "Around
1873 the owners of the Automatic Telegraph Company
commenced negotiations with Jay Gould for
the purchase of the wires between New York and
Washington, and the patents for the system, then in
successful operation. Jay Gould at that time controlled
the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company,
and was competing with the Western Union and
endeavoring to depress Western Union stock on the
Exchange. About this time I invented the quadruplex.
I wanted to interest the Western Union Telegraph
Company in it, with a view of selling it, but
was unsuccessful until I made an arrangement with
the chief electrician of the company, so that he could
be known as a joint inventor and receive a portion of
the money. At that time I was very short of money,
and needed it more than glory. This electrician
appeared to want glory more than money, so it was an
easy trade. I brought my apparatus over and was
given a separate room with a marble-tiled floor,
which, by-the-way, was a very hard kind of floor to
sleep on, and started in putting on the finishing

"After two months of very hard work, I got a
detail at regular times of eight operators, and we
got it working nicely from one room to another over
a wire which ran to Albany and back. Under certain
conditions of weather, one side of the quadruplex
would work very shakily, and I had not succeeded
in ascertaining the cause of the trouble. On a certain
day, when there was a board meeting of the company,
I was to make an exhibition test. The day arrived.
I had picked the best operators in New York, and
they were familiar with the apparatus. I arranged
that if a storm occurred, and the bad side got shaky,
they should do the best they could and draw freely
on their imaginations. They were sending old messages.
About 1, o'clock everything went wrong, as
there was a storm somewhere near Albany, and the
bad side got shaky. Mr. Orton, the president, and
Wm. H. Vanderbilt and the other directors came in.
I had my heart trying to climb up around my oesophagus.
I was paying a sheriff five dollars a day to
withhold judgment which had been entered against
me in a case which I had paid no attention to; and if
the quadruplex had not worked before the president,
I knew I was to have trouble and might lose my
machinery. The New York Times came out next
day with a full account. I was given $5000 as part
payment for the invention, which made me easy, and
I expected the whole thing would be closed up. But
Mr. Orton went on an extended tour just about that
time. I had paid for all the experiments on the
quadruplex and exhausted the money, and I was
again in straits. In the mean time I had introduced
the apparatus on the lines of the company, where it
was very successful.

"At that time the general superintendent of the
Western Union was Gen. T. T. Eckert (who had been
Assistant Secretary of War with Stanton). Eckert
was secretly negotiating with Gould to leave the
Western Union and take charge of the Atlantic &
Pacific--Gould's company. One day Eckert called
me into his office and made inquiries about money
matters. I told him Mr. Orton had gone off and left
me without means, and I was in straits. He told me
I would never get another cent, but that he knew a
man who would buy it. I told him of my arrangement
with the electrician, and said I could not sell
it as a whole to anybody; but if I got enough for it,
I would sell all my interest in any SHARE I might have.
He seemed to think his party would agree to this. I
had a set of quadruplex over in my shop, 10 and 12
Ward Street, Newark, and he arranged to bring him
over next evening to see the apparatus. So the next
morning Eckert came over with Jay Gould and
introduced him to me. This was the first time I had
ever seen him. I exhibited and explained the
apparatus, and they departed. The next day Eckert
sent for me, and I was taken up to Gould's house,
which was near the Windsor Hotel, Fifth Avenue.
In the basement he had an office. It was in the
evening, and we went in by the servants' entrance,
as Eckert probably feared that he was watched.
Gould started in at once and asked me how much I
wanted. I said: `Make me an offer.' Then he said:
`I will give you $30,000.' I said: `I will sell any
interest I may have for that money,' which was something
more than I thought I could get. The next
morning I went with Gould to the office of his lawyers,
Sherman & Sterling, and received a check for
$30,000, with a remark by Gould that I had got the
steamboat Plymouth Rock, as he had sold her for
$30,000 and had just received the check. There
was a big fight on between Gould's company and the
Western Union, and this caused more litigation.
The electrician, on account of the testimony involved,
lost his glory. The judge never decided the case,
but went crazy a few months afterward." It was
obviously a characteristically shrewd move on the
part of Mr. Gould to secure an interest in the quadruplex,
as a factor in his campaign against the Western
Union, and as a decisive step toward his control of
that system, by the subsequent merger that included
not only the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company,
but the American Union Telegraph Company.

Nor was Mr. Gould less appreciative of the value of
Edison's automatic system. Referring to matters
that will be taken up later in the narrative, Edison
says: "After this Gould wanted me to help install the
automatic system in the Atlantic & Pacific company,
of which General Eckert had been elected president,
the company having bought the Automatic Telegraph
Company. I did a lot of work for this company
making automatic apparatus in my shop at Newark.
About this time I invented a district messenger call-
box system, and organized a company called the
Domestic Telegraph Company, and started in to install
the system in New York. I had great difficulty
in getting subscribers, having tried several canvassers,
who, one after the other, failed to get sub-
scribers. When I was about to give it up, a test
operator named Brown, who was on the Automatic
Telegraph wire between New York and Washington,
which passed through my Newark shop, asked permission
to let him try and see if he couldn't get subscribers.
I had very little faith in his ability to get
any, but I thought I would give him a chance, as he
felt certain of his ability to succeed. He started in,
and the results were surprising. Within a month he
had procured two hundred subscribers, and the company
was a success. I have never quite understood
why six men should fail absolutely, while the seventh
man should succeed. Perhaps hypnotism would
account for it. This company was sold out to the
Atlantic & Pacific company." As far back as 1872,
Edison had applied for a patent on district messenger
signal boxes, but it was not issued until
January, 1874, another patent being granted in
September of the same year. In this field of telegraph
application, as in others, Edison was a very early
comer, his only predecessor being the fertile and
ingenious Callahan, of stock-ticker fame. The first
president of the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company,
Elisha W. Andrews, had resigned in 1870 in order to
go to England to introduce the stock ticker in London.
He lived in Englewood, New Jersey, and the
very night he had packed his trunk the house was
burglarized. Calling on his nearest friend the next
morning for even a pair of suspenders, Mr. Andrews
was met with regrets of inability, because the burglars
had also been there. A third and fourth friend in
the vicinity was appealed to with the same dishearten-
ing reply of a story of wholesale spoliation. Mr.
Callahan began immediately to devise a system of
protection for Englewood; but at that juncture a
servant-girl who had been for many years with a
family on the Heights in Brooklyn went mad suddenly
and held an aged widow and her daughter as
helpless prisoners for twenty-four hours without
food or water. This incident led to an extension of
the protective idea, and very soon a system was
installed in Brooklyn with one hundred subscribers.
Out of this grew in turn the district messenger system,
for it was just as easy to call a messenger as to sound
a fire-alarm or summon the police. To-day no large
city in America is without a service of this character,
but its function was sharply limited by the introduction
of the telephone.

Returning to the automatic telegraph it is interesting
to note that so long as Edison was associated with
it as a supervising providence it did splendid work,
which renders the later neglect of automatic or
"rapid telegraphy" the more remarkable. Reid's
standard Telegraph in America bears astonishing testimony
on this point in 1880, as follows: "The Atlantic
& Pacific Telegraph Company had twenty-two
automatic stations. These included the chief cities
on the seaboard, Buffalo, Chicago, and Omaha. The
through business during nearly two years was largely
transmitted in this way. Between New York and
Boston two thousand words a minute have been sent.
The perforated paper was prepared at the rate of
twenty words per minute. Whatever its demerits
this system enabled the Atlantic & Pacific company
to handle a much larger business during 1875 and 1876
than it could otherwise have done with its limited
number of wires in their then condition." Mr. Reid
also notes as a very thorough test of the perfect
practicability of the system, that it handled the
President's message, December 3, 1876, of 12,600 words
with complete success. This long message was filed
at Washington at 1.05 and delivered in New York at
2.07. The first 9000 words were transmitted in
forty-five minutes. The perforated strips were prepared
in thirty minutes by ten persons, and duplicated
by nine copyists. But to-day, nearly thirty-
five years later, telegraphy in America is still
practically on a basis of hand transmission!

Of this period and his association with Jay Gould,
some very interesting glimpses are given by Edison.
"While engaged in putting in the automatic system,
I saw a great deal of Gould, and frequently went
uptown to his office to give information. Gould had
no sense of humor. I tried several times to get off
what seemed to me a funny story, but he failed to see
any humor in them. I was very fond of stories, and
had a choice lot, always kept fresh, with which I
could usually throw a man into convulsions. One
afternoon Gould started in to explain the great future
of the Union Pacific Railroad, which he then controlled.
He got a map, and had an immense amount
of statistics. He kept at it for over four hours, and
got very enthusiastic. Why he should explain to me,
a mere inventor, with no capital or standing, I couldn't
make out. He had a peculiar eye, and I made up
my mind that there was a strain of insanity some-
where. This idea was strengthened shortly afterward
when the Western Union raised the monthly
rental of the stock tickers. Gould had one in his
house office, which he watched constantly. This he
had removed, to his great inconvenience, because the
price had been advanced a few dollars! He railed over
it. This struck me as abnormal. I think Gould's
success was due to abnormal development. He certainly
had one trait that all men must have who want
to succeed. He collected every kind of information
and statistics about his schemes, and had all the
data. His connection with men prominent in official
life, of which I was aware, was surprising to me. His
conscience seemed to be atrophied, but that may be
due to the fact that he was contending with men
who never had any to be atrophied. He worked incessantly
until 12 or 1 o'clock at night. He took no
pride in building up an enterprise. He was after
money, and money only. Whether the company
was a success or a failure mattered not to him. After
he had hammered the Western Union through his
opposition company and had tired out Mr. Vanderbilt,
the latter retired from control, and Gould went
in and consolidated his company and controlled the
Western Union. He then repudiated the contract
with the Automatic Telegraph people, and they never
received a cent for their wires or patents, and I lost
three years of very hard labor. But I never had any
grudge against him, because he was so able in his line,
and as long as my part was successful the money with
me was a secondary consideration. When Gould got
the Western Union I knew no further progress in
telegraphy was possible, and I went into other lines."
The truth is that General Eckert was a conservative
--even a reactionary--and being prejudiced like many
other American telegraph managers against "machine
telegraphy," threw out all such improvements.

The course of electrical history has been variegated
by some very remarkable litigation; but none
was ever more extraordinary than that referred to
here as arising from the transfer of the Automatic
Telegraph Company to Mr. Jay Gould and the
Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company. The terms
accepted by Colonel Reiff from Mr. Gould, on December
30, 1874, provided that the purchasing telegraph
company should increase its capital to $15,000,000,
of which the Automatic interests were to receive
$4,000,000 for their patents, contracts, etc. The
stock was then selling at about 25, and in the later
consolidation with the Western Union "went in"
at about 60; so that the real purchase price was not
less than $1,000,000 in cash. There was a private
arrangement in writing with Mr. Gould that he was
to receive one-tenth of the "result" to the Automatic
group, and a tenth of the further results secured
at home and abroad. Mr. Gould personally bought
up and gave money and bonds for one or two individual
interests on the above basis, including that
of Harrington, who in his representative capacity
executed assignments to Mr. Gould. But payments
were then stopped, and the other owners were left
without any compensation, although all that belonged
to them in the shape of property and patents
was taken over bodily into Atlantic & Pacific hands,
and never again left them. Attempts at settlement
were made in their behalf, and dragged wearily,
due apparently to the fact that the plans were
blocked by General Eckert, who had in some
manner taken offence at a transaction effected
without his active participation in all the details.
Edison, who became under the agreement the electrician
of the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company,
has testified to the unfriendly attitude assumed toward
him by General Eckert, as president. In a
graphic letter from Menlo Park to Mr. Gould, dated
February 2, 1877, Edison makes a most vigorous and
impassioned complaint of his treatment, "which,
acting cumulatively, was a long, unbroken
disappointment to me"; and he reminds Mr. Gould of
promises made to him the day the transfer had been
effected of Edison's interest in the quadruplex. The
situation was galling to the busy, high-spirited young
inventor, who, moreover, "had to live"; and it led
to his resumption of work for the Western Union
Telegraph Company, which was only too glad to get
him back. Meantime, the saddened and perplexed
Automatic group was left unpaid, and it was not
until 1906, on a bill filed nearly thirty years before,
that Judge Hazel, in the United States Circuit Court for
the Southern District of New York, found strongly
in favor of the claimants and ordered an accounting.
The court held that there had been a most wrongful
appropriation of the patents, including alike those
relating to the automatic, the duplex, and the quadruplex,
all being included in the general arrangement
under which Mr. Gould had held put his tempting
bait of $4,000,000. In the end, however, the complainant
had nothing to show for all his struggle,
as the master who made the accounting set the
damages at one dollar!

Aside from the great value of the quadruplex,
saving millions of dollars, for a share in which Edison
received $30,000, the automatic itself is described
as of considerable utility by Sir William Thomson
in his juror report at the Centennial Exposition of
1876, recommending it for award. This leading
physicist of his age, afterward Lord Kelvin, was an
adept in telegraphy, having made the ocean cable
talk, and he saw in Edison's "American Automatic,"
as exhibited by the Atlantic & Pacific company, a
most meritorious and useful system. With the aid
of Mr. E. H. Johnson he made exhaustive tests, carrying
away with him to Glasgow University the surprising
records that he obtained. His official report
closes thus: "The electromagnetic shunt with soft
iron core, invented by Mr. Edison, utilizing Professor
Henry's discovery of electromagnetic induction in a
single circuit to produce a momentary reversal of the
line current at the instant when the battery is thrown
off and so cut off the chemical marks sharply at the
proper instant, is the electrical secret of the great
speed he has achieved. The main peculiarities of
Mr. Edison's automatic telegraph shortly stated in
conclusion are: (1) the perforator; (2) the contact-
maker; (3) the electromagnetic shunt; and (4) the
ferric cyanide of iron solution. It deserves award as
a very important step in land telegraphy." The attitude
thus disclosed toward Mr. Edison's work was
never changed, except that admiration grew as fresh
inventions were brought forward. To the day of his
death Lord Kelvin remained on terms of warmest
friendship with his American co-laborer, with whose
genius he thus first became acquainted at Philadelphia
in the environment of Franklin.

It is difficult to give any complete idea of the activity
maintained at the Newark shops during these
anxious, harassed years, but the statement that at
one time no fewer than forty-five different inventions
were being worked upon, will furnish some notion of
the incandescent activity of the inventor and his
assistants. The hours were literally endless; and
upon one occasion, when the order was in hand for
a large quantity of stock tickers, Edison locked his
men in until the job had been finished of making
the machine perfect, and "all the bugs taken out,"
which meant sixty hours of unintermitted struggle
with the difficulties. Nor were the problems and inventions
all connected with telegraphy. On the contrary,
Edison's mind welcomed almost any new suggestion
as a relief from the regular work in hand.
Thus: "Toward the latter part of 1875, in the Newark
shop, I invented a device for multiplying copies of
letters, which I sold to Mr. A. B. Dick, of Chicago,
and in the years since it has been universally introduced
throughout the world. It is called the `Mimeograph.'
I also invented devices for and introduced
paraffin paper, now used universally for wrapping up
candy, etc." The mimeograph employs a pointed
stylus, used as in writing with a lead-pencil, which
is moved over a kind of tough prepared paper placed
on a finely grooved steel plate. The writing is thus
traced by means of a series of minute perforations in
the sheet, from which, as a stencil, hundreds of copies
can be made. Such stencils can be prepared on
typewriters. Edison elaborated this principle in two
other forms--one pneumatic and one electric--the
latter being in essence a reciprocating motor. Inside
the barrel of the electric pen a little plunger, carrying
the stylus, travels to and fro at a very high rate
of speed, due to the attraction and repulsion of the
solenoid coils of wire surrounding it; and as the hand
of the writer guides it the pen thus makes its record
in a series of very minute perforations in the paper.
The current from a small battery suffices to energize
the pen, and with the stencil thus made hundreds of
copies of the document can be furnished. As a matter
of fact, as many as three thousand copies have been
made from a single mimeographic stencil of this



A VERY great invention has its own dramatic history.
Episodes full of human interest attend
its development. The periods of weary struggle, the
daring adventure along unknown paths, the clash of
rival claimants, are closely similar to those which
mark the revelation and subjugation of a new continent.
At the close of the epoch of discovery it is
seen that mankind as a whole has made one more
great advance; but in the earlier stages one watched
chiefly the confused vicissitudes of fortune of the
individual pioneers. The great modern art of telephony
has had thus in its beginnings, its evolution,
and its present status as a universal medium of
intercourse, all the elements of surprise, mystery,
swift creation of wealth, tragic interludes, and colossal
battle that can appeal to the imagination and hold
public attention. And in this new electrical industry,
in laying its essential foundations, Edison has
again been one of the dominant figures.

As far back as 1837, the American, Page, discovered
the curious fact that an iron bar, when magnetized
and demagnetized at short intervals of time, emitted
sounds due to the molecular disturbances in the
mass. Philipp Reis, a simple professor in Germany,
utilized this principle in the construction of apparatus
for the transmission of sound; but in the grasp of
the idea he was preceded by Charles Bourseul, a
young French soldier in Algeria, who in 1854, under
the title of "Electrical Telephony," in a Parisian
illustrated paper, gave a brief and lucid description as

"We know that sounds are made by vibrations, and
are made sensible to the ear by the same vibrations, which
are reproduced by the intervening medium. But the intensity
of the vibrations diminishes very rapidly with the
distance; so that even with the aid of speaking-tubes and
trumpets it is impossible to exceed somewhat narrow
limits. Suppose a man speaks near a movable disk
sufficiently flexible to lose none of the vibrations of the
voice; that this disk alternately makes and breaks the
connection with a battery; you may have at a distance
another disk which will simultaneously execute the same
vibrations.... Any one who is not deaf and dumb may
use this mode of transmission, which would require no
apparatus except an electric battery, two vibrating disks,
and a wire."

This would serve admirably for a portrayal of the
Bell telephone, except that it mentions distinctly
the use of the make-and-break method (i. e., where
the circuit is necessarily opened and closed as in
telegraphy, although, of course, at an enormously
higher rate), which has never proved practical.

So far as is known Bourseul was not practical
enough to try his own suggestion, and never made
a telephone. About 1860, Reis built several forms
of electrical telephonic apparatus, all imitating in
some degree the human ear, with its auditory tube,
tympanum, etc., and examples of the apparatus were
exhibited in public not only in Germany, but in
England. There is a variety of testimony to the
effect that not only musical sounds, but stray words
and phrases, were actually transmitted with mediocre,
casual success. It was impossible, however, to maintain
the devices in adjustment for more than a few
seconds, since the invention depended upon the
make-and-break principle, the circuit being made and
broken every time an impulse-creating sound went
through it, causing the movement of the diaphragm
on which the sound-waves impinged. Reis himself
does not appear to have been sufficiently interested
in the marvellous possibilities of the idea to follow
it up--remarking to the man who bought his telephonic
instruments and tools that he had shown the
world the way. In reality it was not the way, although
a monument erected to his memory at Frankfort
styles him the inventor of the telephone. As
one of the American judges said, in deciding an early
litigation over the invention of the telephone, a hundred
years of Reis would not have given the world
the telephonic art for public use. Many others after
Reis tried to devise practical make-and-break telephones,
and all failed; although their success would
have rendered them very valuable as a means of
fighting the Bell patent. But the method was a good
starting-point, even if it did not indicate the real
path. If Reis had been willing to experiment with
his apparatus so that it did not make-and-break, he
would probably have been the true father of the
telephone, besides giving it the name by which it is
known. It was not necessary to slam the gate open
and shut. All that was required was to keep the
gate closed, and rattle the latch softly. Incidentally
it may be noted that Edison in experimenting with
the Reis transmitter recognized at once the defect
caused by the make-and-break action, and sought
to keep the gap closed by the use, first, of one drop
of water, and later of several drops. But the water
decomposed, and the incurable defect was still there.

The Reis telephone was brought to America by
Dr. P. H. Van der Weyde, a well-known physicist in
his day, and was exhibited by him before a technical
audience at Cooper Union, New York, in 1868, and
described shortly after in the technical press. The
apparatus attracted attention, and a set was secured
by Prof. Joseph Henry for the Smithsonian Institution.
There the famous philosopher showed and explained
it to Alexander Graham Bell, when that
young and persevering Scotch genius went to get
help and data as to harmonic telegraphy, upon which
he was working, and as to transmitting vocal sounds.
Bell took up immediately and energetically the idea
that his two predecessors had dropped--and reached
the goal. In 1875 Bell, who as a student and teacher
of vocal physiology had unusual qualifications for
determining feasible methods of speech transmission,
constructed his first pair of magneto telephones for
such a purpose. In February of 1876 his first telephone
patent was applied for, and in March it was
issued. The first published account of the modern
speaking telephone was a paper read by Bell before
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Bos-
ton in May of that year; while at the Centennial
Exposition at Philadelphia the public first gained
any familiarity with it. It was greeted at once with
scientific acclaim and enthusiasm as a distinctly new
and great invention, although at first it was regarded
more as a scientific toy than as a commercially valuable

By an extraordinary coincidence, the very day that
Bell's application for a patent went into the United
States Patent Office, a caveat was filed there by
Elisha Gray, of Chicago, covering the specific idea of
transmitting speech and reproducing it in a telegraphic
circuit "through an instrument capable of
vibrating responsively to all the tones of the human
voice, and by which they are rendered audible." Out
of this incident arose a struggle and a controversy
whose echoes are yet heard as to the legal and moral
rights of the two inventors, the assertion even being
made that one of the most important claims of Gray,
that on a liquid battery transmitter, was surreptitiously
"lifted" into the Bell application, then covering
only the magneto telephone. It was also asserted
that the filing of the Gray caveat antedated by a few
hours the filing of the Bell application. All such issues
when brought to the American courts were brushed
aside, the Bell patent being broadly maintained in
all its remarkable breadth and fullness, embracing
an entire art; but Gray was embittered and chagrined,
and to the last expressed his belief that the
honor and glory should have been his. The path of
Gray to the telephone was a natural one. A Quaker
carpenter who studied five years at Oberlin College,
he took up electrical invention, and brought out
many ingenious devices in rapid succession in the
telegraphic field, including the now universal needle
annunciator for hotels, etc., the useful telautograph,
automatic self-adjusting relays, private-line printers
--leading up to his famous "harmonic" system.
This was based upon the principle that a sound
produced in the presence of a reed or tuning-fork
responding to the sound, and acting as the armature of
a magnet in a closed circuit, would, by induction,
set up electric impulses in the circuit and cause a
distant magnet having a similarly tuned armature to
produce the same tone or note. He also found that
over the same wire at the same time another series
of impulses corresponding to another note could be
sent through the agency of a second set of magnets
without in any way interfering with the first series
of impulses. Building the principle into apparatus,
with a keyboard and vibrating "reeds" before his
magnets, Doctor Gray was able not only to transmit
music by his harmonic telegraph, but went so far as
to send nine different telegraph messages at the
same instant, each set of instruments depending on
its selective note, while any intermediate office could
pick up the message for itself by simply tuning its
relays to the keynote required. Theoretically the
system could be split up into any number of notes
and semi-tones. Practically it served as the basis
of some real telegraphic work, but is not now in use.
Any one can realize, however, that it did not take so
acute and ingenious a mind very long to push forward
to the telephone, as a dangerous competitor
with Bell, who had also, like Edison, been working
assiduously in the field of acoustic and multiple telegraphs.
Seen in the retrospect, the struggle for the
goal at this moment was one of the memorable incidents
in electrical history.

Among the interesting papers filed at the Orange
Laboratory is a lithograph, the size of an ordinary
patent drawing, headed "First Telephone on Record."
The claim thus made goes back to the period
when all was war, and when dispute was hot and rife
as to the actual invention of the telephone. The
device shown, made by Edison in 1875, was actually
included in a caveat filed January 14, 1876, a month
before Bell or Gray. It shows a little solenoid
arrangement, with one end of the plunger attached to
the diaphragm of a speaking or resonating chamber.
Edison states that while the device is crudely capable
of use as a magneto telephone, he did not invent it
for transmitting speech, but as an apparatus for
analyzing the complex waves arising from various
sounds. It was made in pursuance of his investigations
into the subject of harmonic telegraphs. He
did not try the effect of sound-waves produced by
the human voice until Bell came forward a few months
later; but he found then that this device, made in
1875, was capable of use as a telephone. In his testimony
and public utterances Edison has always given
Bell credit for the discovery of the transmission of
articulate speech by talking against a diaphragm
placed in front of an electromagnet; but it is only
proper here to note, in passing, the curious fact that
he had actually produced a device that COULD talk,
prior to 1876, and was therefore very close to Bell,
who took the one great step further. A strong
characterization of the value and importance of the work
done by Edison in the development of the carbon
transmitter will be found in the decision of Judge
Brown in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals,
sitting in Boston, on February 27, 1901, declaring
void the famous Berliner patent of the Bell telephone

[5] See Federal Reporter, vol. 109, p. 976 et seq.

Bell's patent of 1876 was of an all-embracing character,
which only the make-and-break principle, if
practical, could have escaped. It was pointed out
in the patent that Bell discovered the great principle
that electrical undulations induced by the vibrations
of a current produced by sound-waves can be
represented graphically by the same sinusoidal curve
that expresses the original sound vibrations themselves;
or, in other words, that a curve representing
sound vibrations will correspond precisely to a curve
representing electric impulses produced or generated
by those identical sound vibrations--as, for example,
when the latter impinge upon a diaphragm acting
as an armature of an electromagnet, and which by
movement to and fro sets up the electric impulses by
induction. To speak plainly, the electric impulses
correspond in form and character to the sound vibration
which they represent. This reduced to a patent
"claim" governed the art as firmly as a papal bull
for centuries enabled Spain to hold the Western
world. The language of the claim is: "The method
of and apparatus for transmitting vocal or other
sounds telegraphically as herein described, by causing
electrical undulations similar in form to the vibrations
of the air accompanying the said vocal or other
sounds substantially as set forth." It was a long
time, however, before the inclusive nature of this
grant over every possible telephone was understood
or recognized, and litigation for and against the
patent lasted during its entire life. At the outset,
the commercial value of the telephone was little
appreciated by the public, and Bell had the greatest
difficulty in securing capital; but among far-sighted
inventors there was an immediate "rush to the gold
fields." Bell's first apparatus was poor, the results
being described by himself as "unsatisfactory and
discouraging," which was almost as true of the
devices he exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial.
The new-comers, like Edison, Berliner, Blake, Hughes,
Gray, Dolbear, and others, brought a wealth of ideas,
a fund of mechanical ingenuity, and an inventive
ability which soon made the telephone one of the
most notable gains of the century, and one of the
most valuable additions to human resources. The
work that Edison did was, as usual, marked by
infinite variety of method as well as by the power to
seize on the one needed element of practical success.
Every one of the six million telephones in use in the
United States, and of the other millions in use through
out the world, bears the imprint of his genius, as at
one time the instruments bore his stamped name.
For years his name was branded on every Bell telephone
set, and his patents were a mainstay of what
has been popularly called the "Bell monopoly."
Speaking of his own efforts in this field, Mr. Edison

"In 1876 I started again to experiment for the
Western Union and Mr. Orton. This time it was the
telephone. Bell invented the first telephone, which
consisted of the present receiver, used both as a
transmitter and a receiver (the magneto type). It
was attempted to introduce it commercially, but it
failed on account of its faintness and the extraneous
sounds which came in on its wires from various
causes. Mr. Orton wanted me to take hold of it and
make it commercial. As I had also been working on
a telegraph system employing tuning-forks,
simultaneously with both Bell and Gray, I was pretty
familiar with the subject. I started in, and soon
produced the carbon transmitter, which is now
universally used.

"Tests were made between New York and Philadelphia,
also between New York and Washington,
using regular Western Union wires. The noises were
so great that not a word could be heard with the Bell
receiver when used as a transmitter between New
York and Newark, New Jersey. Mr. Orton and
W. K. Vanderbilt and the board of directors witnessed
and took part in the tests. The Western
Union then put them on private lines. Mr. Theodore
Puskas, of Budapest, Hungary, was the first man
to suggest a telephone exchange, and soon after
exchanges were established. The telephone department
was put in the hands of Hamilton McK. Twombly,
Vanderbilt's ablest son-in-law, who made a success
of it. The Bell company, of Boston, also started an
exchange, and the fight was on, the Western Union
pirating the Bell receiver, and the Boston company
pirating the Western Union transmitter. About this
time I wanted to be taken care of. I threw out hints
of this desire. Then Mr. Orton sent for me. He had
learned that inventors didn't do business by the
regular process, and concluded he would close it
right up. He asked me how much I wanted. I had
made up my mind it was certainly worth $25,000,
if it ever amounted to anything for central-station
work, so that was the sum I had in mind to stick to
and get--obstinately. Still it had been an easy job,
and only required a few months, and I felt a little
shaky and uncertain. So I asked him to make me
an offer. He promptly said he would give me
$100,000. `All right,' I said. `It is yours on one
condition, and that is that you do not pay it all at
once, but pay me at the rate of $6000 per year for
seventeen years'--the life of the patent. He seemed
only too pleased to do this, and it was closed. My
ambition was about four times too large for my
business capacity, and I knew that I would soon
spend this money experimenting if I got it all at
once, so I fixed it that I couldn't. I saved seventeen
years of worry by this stroke."

Thus modestly is told the debut of Edison in the
telephone art, to which with his carbon transmitter
he gave the valuable principle of varying the resistance
of the transmitting circuit with changes in the
pressure, as well as the vital practice of using the
induction coil as a means of increasing the effective
length of the talking circuit. Without these, modern
telephony would not and could not exist.[6] But Edison,
in telephonic work, as in other directions, was
remarkably fertile and prolific. His first inventions
in the art, made in 1875-76, continue through many
later years, including all kinds of carbon instruments
--the water telephone, electrostatic telephone,
condenser telephone, chemical telephone, various
magneto telephones, inertia telephone, mercury telephone,
voltaic pile telephone, musical transmitter, and
the electromotograph. All were actually made and

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