Thomas Edison’s accomplishments during his 84 years on this planet (1847-1931) are remarkable. We all know about the light bulb, but Edison held more than 1,000 patents in his name in the U.S.
And we all know what that means! For every Edison invention that was a major breakthrough… there were many that didn’t catch on.
Here are 5 unusual inventions from Thomas Edison that you might be aware he created.
1. Literally “Hello”
After the invention of the telephone, there was no set greeting for folks picked up this newfangled gadget.
In 1877, Alexander Graham Bell’s first words were “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Graham Bell then pushed for “Ahoy, Ahoy” to be the official phone greeting, but it was Thomas Edison who proposed “Hello!”
By 1881 the phrase was in the dictionary and the rest is history.
2. Concrete house molds
The Edison Portland Cement Company was founded in 1889 but its early years were not pretty. Edison had an idea to make an entire house out of concrete that could be poured by workers in hours. He envisioned the walls, floors, furniture, etc. all being poured from a mold. It gives new meaning to the term “cookie cutter.”
Edison thought his idea would be the answer to inner-city slums. The problem was that builders would have to invest an incredible $175,000 for the original mold before they could begin construction.
The idea failed and only a few of the concrete houses were ever poured.
3. Vacuum-sealed fruit
Edison and his team had the idea of using vacuum pumps to seal fruit in air-tight glass domes while they were developing the light bulb.
His patent was intended for the preservation of fruit, so think of it as early vacuum-sealing.
Needless to say, this didn’t catch on either.
4. The Hollywood film industry
Edison held a patent for one of the first motion picture cameras and he built America’s first movie studio in West Orange, New Jersey, on his property. He also released the first motion picture to be copyrighted in the U.S. in 1894 (the video is above).
Edison basically had a monopoly on the film industry on the east coast and he used intimidation tactics and refused to sell film to people who did not play by his rules.
So what did those filmmakers do? Move across the country to southern California. Hollywood became the center of the filmmaking universe and remains that way to this day.
Thanks for being a dick Thomas!
5. Creepy talking dolls
Edison’s phonograph was already capable of recording and reproducing sound by 1890 when he wanted to make dolls with small phonograph players inside them play nursery rhymes for kids. It was a great idea but it wasn’t executed very well.
The tiny phonograph players didn’t last long in the hands of rambunctious kids and the recordings were scratched or warped after only a few uses. That made for some creepy talking dolls waaaayyyyyyyy before Chucky was even a twinkle in some movie producer’s eye. Only 500 of the creepy dolls were sold and production was discontinued only a month later.