[Tig] A look back at how digital photography started...

Richard Kirk richard at filmlight.ltd.uk
Fri Jun 26 23:15:33 BST 2015

> "Joey D'Anna" <joeydanna at gmail.com> sez...
> Bell labs had an amazing history. They are probably the single most important research organization ever formed.

Yes to the first part, but I must give first place it to Edison @ Menlo Park. 
- he started the first thing that can be recognized as a modern science park
- he lured good scientists to work there with good apparatus
- he used patents and the press in a way that was unknown at the time.
- he had an integrated invention, and productisation process
- he lead from the front throughout.

When I was young in the UK, children's books told the story of how Edison invented the light bulb. You know the tale: 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, and stuff. But the bulbs were made by the Edison-Swan company. He was an inventive man, but he also was not afraid to use his name to push the work of other inventors, and Mister Swan made the carbon filament light bulb. In his age this was not as bad as it appears now: Emil Zola of a similar age is supposed to have written hundreds of novels, but he is known to have bought novels from unknown people, added his name and a bit of his style. Edison made an inventions factory where people invented stuff, but there was a continuous process that filed patents, published results, made products, and fed back new ideas to the ideas factory. Edison himself slept on the bench when stuff was happening, and they had a barrel of beer and a pipe organ at the end of the lab for Friday evenings. He might not be the sort of guy I would want to shake by the hand, but he did bring the science park fully formed out of nothing.

Bell Labs is a fine place too, though.

Richard Kirk
FilmLight Ltd, Artists House, 14-15 Manette Street, London W1D 4AP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7292 0400  Fax: +44 (0)20 7292 0401

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