I have perhaps visited the Edison museum in Ft. Myers, Florida at least four or five times in my life and every time that I visit the museum I come away with something new in regards to his work and his life. He was indeed a giant among men and had 1,093 U.S. patents to this name. He was born in Milan, Ohio in 1847. Most of us remember Edison for his invention of the phonograph and his work with the incandescent lamp, but he was also involved in a great many other projects, some which were not successful, but most which were not only technically successful but through his leadership, he built them into gigantic empires which mass produced his products.
One of Thomas Edison’s failures was to produce machines which could crust and process large amounts of rock to extract iron ore. But during this time, a huge deposit of iron ore was discovered in Minnesota and his machines were not needed. He quickly turned his expertise of crushing rocks into making cement and in 1898 he founded the Edison Portland Cement Company of New Jersey which became a very very successful company. In this area he holds 43 patents and invented a single pour technology to mass produce prefabricated seamless concrete homes for the masses.
Around 1900, Thomas Edison began working on a better storage battery other than the known lead-acid battery. He worked on perfecting the alkaline storage battery over the next 10 years. After 9,000 experiments, Edison’s staff tried to discourage him. He responded “Failures, those are not failures – those are 9,000 things we won’t have to do over.” In addition to the lead acid batteries that his company produced, he made a net profit of $300,000 in 1912 on the alkaline storage battery which became the most successful product that he marketed.
And so our trip to Florida came to an end. We may never see another man of such great genius, but we all can remember that he accepted failures as part of the learning process and he did not let those so called failures keep him from trying again.