back to articles list »

The Light of Invention

[Music Room at Edison National Historic Site]

I recently had the opportunity to have a private visit of the Thomas Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey. Its Thomas Edison’s laboratory complex and it is currently being renovated. The complex is where he created the first films, recorded some of the first music records, manufactured light bulbs and phonographs and many other gadgets that changed our lives forever. Since I was there as part of team of fabricators who were helping with the renovation, I didn’t feel it was right for me to take too many pictures, but I did get this one shot of the machine shop in the early afternoon. 


As part of our tour, we wandered the halls, machine shops, and laboratories that Edison created and worked in. It felt like I was walking in a space of invention, and the entire laboratory building (building #5) looked exactly like it did when Edison was there. We had privileged access to a huge room full of invention prototypes. There I saw a prototype for the phonograph. It was built out of old tubes, some wood hammered together, various springs, and some odds and ends he had lying around. It was eclectic to say the least. It inspired me to believe that if Edison was doing it with the phonograph maybe you and I have the worlds next great invention just lying around in our basement of odds and ends.

But, while for me the experience was amazing, it was the lighting in the space that caught me by surprise.

If you’re like me, you long for a large open loft space to call your own, except most of us end up spending our creative time in a cubicle, a laboratory, in a basement or a garage. Most of these spaces are windowless and if we were ever given a choice, I am sure most of you would pick one with a large window. Unfortunately, there is nothing, not even our new beautiful LED light bulbs, that even comes close to the happiness and positive effects sunlight gives you, and it’s a shame more people can’t have a space filled with sunlit windows when they are trying to create.

I find it very humorous to know that Edison was creating a light bulb in one of the most wonderfully sun-lit rooms I’ve ever seen. So the next time you are trying to create the next best thing, find some windows and beautiful sunlight, even if its only for a few minutes. Just enjoy it. It will elevate your mood, improve your health, and remind you that sometimes innovation is as much about where you work as what you make.