Did Edison Steal Some of his Inventions?


Thomas Alva Edison is claimed to be the greatest who ever lived and there is no doubt about this fact. He provided mankind with some of the most spectacular technologies. He held more than 1,000 patents which is a mean deed in no way. But some research about his life shows that he could go to any extents to claim credit for inventions done by others. There are some examples of this infamous deed.

Thomas Alva Edison: Greatest inventor or is he?

Edison is generally mentioned as the inventor of fluoroscope which was used for x-rays. X-rays are a huge boon for medical science. Invention and later distribution of these devices added significantly to the wealth of Edison. But the actual inventor of the x-ray device was a German scientist named Wilhelm Rontgen. Rontgen was the first to see the human bones. He took x-ray images of his wife’s hand many years before Edison. But Rontgen’s invention did not spread and Edison was more than happy to claim x-ray as his brainchild and mint money.

X-ray photograph of Wilhelm Roentgen’s wife’s hand

Edison is also credited for creating devices for recording speech and other sounds. But a French printer and bookseller named Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville had initially created a device known as “phonautograph”. This device was created more than 15 years before Edison’s invention of phonograph. In this instance too Edison made no mention of de Martinville while distributing his new device.

Thomas Edison with his Phonograph

One of the worst stories about Edison is his invention of motion pictures. Edison is known as the Father of Motion Pictures. But the first working motion pictures were invented by Louis Le Prince, who was an inventor himself. It was sure that whoever got the patents for motion picture would become very rich. In 1890, Le Prince started distributing the motion pictures in England. He would sail to America once he was done in England. He stepped on a train on September 13, 1890 and vanished from there. Even his luggage could not be traced. In 1892 Le Prince’s son was shot dead before testifying for hos father’s patent trial. The murder mystery was never solved.

A Still from Georges Melies’s A Trip to the Moon

Another story of Edison’s mischief can be sighted. A Trip to the Moon was a popular motion picture in England. Everyone liked this picture. So, Edison obtained a personal copy from a theatre owner. On making his way back to USA he made a lot of money showing this print to the motion picture lovers. This was the first act of piracy. When Melies arrived in USA with his picture he incurred heavy losses as the public had already watched the pirated copy. This led to Melies’ infamous bankruptcy.

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