"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thomas A. Edison

This 1890 portrait of Thomas A. Edison by Abraham Archibald Anderson hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Painted during Thomas Alva Edison's visit to Paris for the Universal Exposition of 1889, Abraham A. Anderson's portrait depicts the wealthy entrepreneur at the height of his career. World-renowned for his inventions including the phonograph, incandescent lamp, and movie camera, Edison, who received numerous honors in Europe, presided over one of the most popular exhibitions at the exposition. Particularly intriguing to audiences was Edison's phonograph, the recent improvement of which Anderson chose to picture. Although Edison patented the device in 1877, earning himself the title of the 'Wizard of Menlo Park,' eleven years passed before he achieved sufficient clarity of sound to make it commercially viable. Using the word 'specie' as a test, Edison labored until it could be properly transmitted. 'When that was done,' Edison reported, 'I knew everything else could be done, which was a fact.'" -- National Portrait Gallery
The  Portrait Gallery also has this model of Edison's tin-foil phonograph.

"This early phonograph, presented by Thomas Edison in 1878, gave the world the ability to replicate sound, Although an earlier machine by Charles Cross could record sound waves, Edison's invention was the first with the ability to play them back. This model, which Edison presented to the Smithsonian in 1916, used a tinfoil cylinder to capture the sound, a feature that was later replaced with wax." -- National Portrait Gallery

This photo of Edison appeared in Bertie Forbes' 1917 book,  Men Who Are Making America.


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