Rutgers Prof. Paul Israel on Thomas Edison, Inventions, & American Patents

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Prof. Paul Israel, Director & General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University, and author of Edison: A Life of Invention, the definitive biography of America’s greatest inventor. Professor Israel describes Edison’s public and private life, as well as the impact of his world-changing inventions, such as the hot-filament light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion-picture camera. Called the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” Edison is still the American with the most individual patents — 1,093 in the U.S. and 1,200 in 34 foreign countries. They discuss what educators and students in the 21st century can learn from how Edison ran the country’s first industrial research laboratory in New Jersey, and the importance of the U.S. Patent Office in protecting inventors’ exclusive right to profit from their inventions. They also discuss what students should learn about the role inventions have played in the historic success of the United States and in the highly dynamic and competitive global economy. Professor Israel concludes with a reading from his biography.

Stories of the Week:  The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is celebrating its 75th anniversary of providing education for the children of American service members. Today, DoDEA operates 160 schools in eight districts across 11 countries, seven U.S. states and two U.S. territories for more than 67,000 students. (Read Pioneer’s related 2015 report.) In West Virginia, the Professional Charter School Board approved three applications for the state’s first ever charter public schools, which will provide another option for families who want and need a different learning environment.

Prof. Paul Israel is the Director and General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University, and has made the study of American invention and innovation his specialty. The Edison Papers provides leadership in publishing and developing the documentary legacy of America’s most prolific inventor and innovator. To date, the project has produced nine volumes of The Papers of Thomas A. Edison, as well as an online edition with nearly 150,000 documents. In 2000, Dr. Israel was awarded the prestigious Dexter Prize for Edison: A Life of Invention (1998). His other books include, From Machine Shop to Industrial Laboratory: Telegraphy and the Changing Context of American Invention,1830-1920 (1992) and Edison’s Electric Light: The Art of Invention (2010); written with Robert Friedel. Dr. Israel is a frequent consultant and contributor to projects seeking material about Edison and invention, including nearly thirty television and radio documentaries. He also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the history of technology and innovation.

Next Episode:

The next episode will air on Wednesday, November 24th with guest, Nicholas Basbanes, author of the 2020 literary biography, Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

West Virginia’s first charter schools approved

DoDEA Celebrates 75 Years of Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Military-Connected Students

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  1. Taras Coolidge

    Prof. Paul Israel @14:20.

    • #1
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