Edison’s Phonograph

More than any other fruit of Edison’s fertile brain, this one was not merely useful but magical

3 min read
Photo-illustration: Stuart Bradford
Photo-illustration: Stuart Bradford

When Thomas Edison died in 1931, at 84, he held nearly 1,100 patents in the United States and more than 2,300 patents worldwide. By far the most famous one was his patent for the lightbulb, but he came up neither with the idea of an evacuated glass container nor with the use of an incandescing filament. More fundamental was Edison’s conception, entirely de novo, of the complete system of electricity generation, transmission, and conversion, which he put into operation first in London and in lower Manhattan in 1882.

But for sheer originality bordering on the magical, nothing compares to Edison’s U.S. Patent No. 200,521, issued on 19 February 1878, for the first-ever way to hear recorded sound.

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Tony Fadell: The Nest Thermostat Disrupted My Life

The Nest founder tells of years in pursuit of a thermostat he actually likes

7 min read
A man holds a circular device in front of a blue wall that says nest on it.

Tony Fadell shows off the Nest thermostat in 2012.

Karsten Lemm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

The thermostat chased me for 10 years.

That is pretty extreme, by the way. If you’ve got an idea for a business or a new product, you usually don’t have to wait a decade to make sure it’s worth doing.

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