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A Record for Invention: Thomas Edison and His Papers

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Thomas A. Edison left a vast and diverse record of his inventive and business activity which can help us better understand the context and processes of technological creativity. The nature and impact of such creativity are neither widely nor well understood today. The array of Edison-related experimental notes and drawings, correspondence, legal and business records, and artifacts provides detailed insight into how Edison and his associates developed and deployed new technologies. In specific examples dealing with Edison's work in telephony and with motion pictures, the documents illustrate the role of analogy and previous experience in Edison's approach to technological problems. The Thomas A. Edison Papers project is making readily available for examination an extensive selection from the 3¿ million pages of such documents. A team of historical editors and researchers are preparing a large selective microfilm edition of Edison's papers and a more fully annotated and illustrated multivolume book edition. This historical editing project is employing innovative procedures and modern technology in dealing with one of the most influential figures in American electrical invention gnd industrial development. The products of this effort are beginning to appear and will soon encourage further study of the complexities of the development of technology, both historically and in our contemporary society.

Published in:

Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 4 )

Date of Publication:

Nov. 1984

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