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Thomas A. Edison: A New Laboratory in Orange, New Jersey

In 1886, a new laboratory was built at Orange, New Jersey. This laboratory is so large that it makes its famous predecessor at Menlo Park seem small and insignificant, by comparison. The equipment is complete for carrying on all sorts of experiments from those relating to the kinetograph to those in connection with the magnetic-ore separator.

In building his laboratory the inventor remembered to provide in many ways for the comfort and pleasure of the men whom he employed. At the top of the building, there is a large lecture hall. There the men often assemble to listen to scientific lectures given by the best scholars and lecturers in the country.

The library, with its wealth of books, is an attractive room. Mr. Edison cares little for luxury or ease, and this room was at first as plain as the rest of tl-.e building. But on his forty-second birthday his men surprised him by introducing into his library some of the comforts he never thought of providing for himself. Rugs, easy chairs, tables, pictures, even plants were used to give the room an air of comfort and beauty.

In this room the inventor sometimes sits, not reading at his ease, but surrounded by great stacks of books on some particular subject, glancing eagerly through one volume after another as if his life depended on his mastering their contents within a given time. He respects books as the record of the labor of other students and scientists. But he is often disappointed in them; he says, "Some way I never find just what I want in books."

Thomas A. Edison In His Laboratory - c1911

Thomas A. Edison In His Laboratory - c1911

During his early manhood, Edison contributed little in person to the social side of life. He believed that in his inventions he gave to the world the best part of himself. Society accepted the inventions but was not satisfied. Men insist on considering a man greater than any machine he may make. Everything Edison did only made people more anxious to see and know him. For a long time he rebuffed all efforts of the public to make a hero of him.

When an attempt was made to give a dinner in honor of the great inventor he refused to be present saying: "One hundred thousand dollars would not tempt me to sit through two hours of personal glorification."

Efforts have been made to induce him to talk into one of his phonographs. But he refuses emphatically, declaring, “it would make me sick with disgust to see on every corner, 'Put a nickel in the slot and hear Edison talk.' "

He has not worked in order that he may at one time live without work. He says that his highest pleasure is in work and he looks forward to no season of rest. Although he is so devoted to his work, Edison's life is not void of brightness. He is one of the most joyous men in the world. Failures and disappointments, he has accepted through life as philosophically as he did the destruction of his first laboratory by the angry railroad conductor.

He has the rare ability of transferring his attention quickly from one thing to another. When exhausted with work, he will dash out of his office, tell a funny story, have a good laugh with a friend, and in five minutes be as hard at work as ever. He keeps an organ in his library on which he has taught himself to play a few of his favorite airs, and this often affords him a few minutes' refreshment in the midst of hours of close study.

His work never loses its charm; he is always engaged in some novel and interesting experiment. Within the last few years, however, he has admitted some pleasures into his life not directly connected with his work.

Mr. Edison has traveled extensively in America and in Europe and been received with high honors everywhere. His first wife having died, he married again, and bought a beautiful and luxurious home in Llewellyn Park, near Orange, New Jersey.

Frances M. Perry, “The Story of Thomas A. Edison: At Orange, New Jersey.” In Four American Inventors: A Book for Young Americans, New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago: American Book Company, 1901, Pages 256-260.

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