Edison in Middlesex County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower
This tower marks the site of the experimental laboratory built by Thomas Alva Edison, born Milan, Ohio, February 11, 1847. The laboratory structure occupied by the inventor from 1876 to 1886, was transported in 1929 by his friend and admirer Henry Ford to Dearborn, Michigan.
The center of this tower marks the exact spot where the first practical incandescent lamp was tested. A lamp in the interior was lighted by Mr. Edison on October 21, 1929 from Dearborn Michigan during the jubilee celebration of the invention of the lamp and since then has glowed continuously.
In 1937 this permanent tower was erected replacing a temporary tower on this site which was erected in 1929. A large light surmounting the temporary tower was also lighted by Mr. Edison on October 21, 1929 and continued to burn nightly until the tower was destroyed by lightning on August 11, 1937, while the building of the permanent tower around same was in process.
Here at Menlo Park, many of Edison's important inventions were made. In 1886, the contents of the laboratory were moved to Orange, New Jersey, where in a larger experimental laboratory he continued his discoveries
After innumerable unsuccessful experiments with various kinds and sizes of filaments, Edison produced, on October 21, 1879, and incandescent lamp containing a filament of carbonized cotton thread in a highly exhausted glass bulb supplied with current from a voltaic battery of Bunsen cells.
It glowed for forty consecutive hours - an epoch making record. This unprecedented achievement led steadily through many improvements and further inventions such as metallic base screw socket, switch-key, and supports to a commercial type of incandescent lamp similar in form to the beacon which surmounts this tower.
A score of countries were searched for uniform wood fibers, thousands of samples were tested and discarded. The search led to a selected species of Japanese Bamboo from which carbonized filaments were made for several years.
To supply his new incandescent lamps with a steady voltage of about 100 volts, Edison here invented and designed the first Dynamo-Electric Generator with a Shunt Field Winding and a Low-Resistance Armature, capable of being driven either by a belt and pulley, or by direct coupling to a specially designed steam engine.
The efficiency of these new generators was approximately ninety per cent which was about double what had previously been obtained or was supposed
Such a machine the inventor also utilized as a direct-current motor, receiving its power by connection across the mains of his constant-voltage supply system.
In conjunction with these new generators and motors he invented suitable controlling, regulating, and measuring devices for use in a constant-voltage central station which he was the first to construct. This marked the beginning of constant potential commercial production and distribution of electric light and power.
To supply electric current to consumers premises from a central generating power supply Edison here invented and designed the first parallel distribution system supplying electric current for lighting heating, and motive power. Lamps, heaters, and motors were connected in parallel across the delivery mains of either two-wire or three-wire conductors known as Edison Three-Wire System.
He here invented and designed an underground street system of continuous iron pipes, containing insulated copper conductors, with connecting junction boxes and service boxes for supplying electric current throughout cities to individual buildings.
To facilitate the use and control of electric light and power inside of buildings he here invented and designed switches, meters, fuses, branch blocks, outlets, etc.
He likewise invented and designed a system of high tension direct-current
Here it was that Edison invented and put into experimental operation the first compound-wound electric railway motor and truck, operated from constant-voltage conductors. He operated this electric railway locomotive on a special track at Menlo Park. One rail serving as the return conductor, the motor being belted to the locomotive shaft. So began constant-voltage electric transportation, destined to travel around the world.
Then followed his underground electric conductors beneath a slot for the operation of electric railway motors in city streets, also a third-rail contact system for such railways, a system of multiple control of electric railway motors and electromagnet brake.
He invented the Harmonic System of Telegraphy by Wire, employing multiple frequencies on the same wire for carrying different messages simultaneously. Also the Quadruplex system for sending four messages simultaneously on one wire - two in each direction.
He invented wireless communication with moving trains, wireless telegraphy using both directional and non-directional antennae with high frequency current supply to both ship and shore stations. The basic principle of thermionic emission in
In telephony he invented the condenser telephone transmitter. The "Dynamic Microphone," the electromotograph loud speaking telephone receiver, and also the carbon microphone transmitter, which marked an epoch in telephone art, and brought the electric telephony system to a commercial success.
Edison here invented the phonograph. A marvelous achievement for recreation and business. For the first time in history sounds and human speech were imperishably recorded.
Edison originated innumerable other inventions. He received recognitions, medals, and honors from governments, national expositions, and organizations in countries all over the world.
When presenting to Edison, The United States Congressional Medal, October 20, 1928, President Calvin Coolidge said: "Noble, kindly servant of the United States and benefactor of mankind, many you long be spared to continue your work and to inspire those who will carry forward your torch."
Edison continued making inventions until his death at Orange, New Jersey, October 18, 1931, and his burial marked the 52nd anniversary of the making of his first successful carbonized filament lamp.
President Herbert Hoover, on learning of the death of Thomas A Edison, broadcast by radio a nation-wide commemorative
"He has led no armies into battle - He has conquered no countries - He has enslaved no people - Yet he wields a power the magnitude of which no warrior has ever dreamed. He commands a devotion more sweeping in scope, more world-wide than any other living man - a devotion rooted deep in human gratitude and untinged by bias of race, color, religion or politics." -- Arthur J. Palmer
The Edison Tower is a gift to The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Incorporated in behalf of the Edison Pioneers from William Slocum Barstow, President of The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Incorporated and Edison Pioneers 1929 - 1936.
The lighting of the tower is a gift of the Public Service Electric and Gas Company of New Jersey - Thomas N McCarter, President.
Erected 1937 by Edison Pioneers.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Science & Medicine. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #30 Calvin Coolidge, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #31 Herbert Hoover series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1824.
Location. 40° 33.793′ N, 74° 20.341′ W. Marker is in Edison, New Jersey, in Middlesex County. Marker is on 37 Christie Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Edison NJ 08820, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Thomas Alva Edison’s Menlo Park Invention Factory (within shouting distance of this marker); The Invention of the Phonograph (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas Edison’s Office 1879 to 1884 (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas Edison and the Electric Railway (within shouting distance of this marker); Sarah B. Jordan Boarding House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Thomas Alva Edison Menlo Park Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Menlo Park Terrace (approx. one mile away); First Presbyterian Church Of Iselin (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Edison.
Also see . . . Menlo Park Museum Official Site. Efforts are underway to save and restore the tower with the "World's Largest Lightbulb." (Submitted on July 28, 2010, by Ronald Claiborne of College Station, Texas.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 14, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 20, 2010, by Ronald Claiborne of College Station, Texas. This page has been viewed 2,715 times since then and 22 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week February 19, 2012. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. submitted on July 20, 2010, by Ronald Claiborne of College Station, Texas. 21, 22, 23. submitted on October 11, 2018, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. 24. submitted on December 11, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.