Where Do New Ideas Come From?

In 1887, after achieving great fame and fortune for his invention of the phonograph, a machine that recorded sound, the acoustic telegraph, which transmitted more than one message at a time, and commercially viable light bulbs, Thomas Edison built a laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. He recruited a team of talented scientists and engineers to help him further develop his famous inventions and, of course, to come up with new ones.

Edison’s team there invented a cotton picker, a snow compactor, and a way of using magnetized iron to generate electricity. But probably the most famous device to emerge from ...

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