thomas edison > a lifetime of invention : early life
thomas edison > early life : menlo park, 1876-1877


The Move to Menlo Park, New Jersey

In 1876 the electrical engineering firm of Pope, Edison and Company was able to move its operations from Newark, New Jersey to Menlo Park, New Jersey.  Edison wanted freedom from the exacting schedule imposed by the manufacturing enterprises and from the detractions that diverted his attention, to devote his whole time to experimental and research work in a laboratory. 

Edison continued his work on acoustics and was experimenting also with the telephone and came out with the “Carbon Transmitter,” using a carbon button to amplify the sound, thus making the telephone more audible and natural in tone.  Pressure on the button brought results in variance in the movements of the diaphragm and increased the sound.  For this contribution to the telephone Edison received from the Western Union Telegraph Company, who went into the field with Edison’s improved telephone, the sum of $100,000.  He was afraid he would spend the money too soon if he got it in a lump sum, so he requested it be paid at the rate of $6,000 per year for the 17 years life of the patent.  Later on he received a second $100,000 payable in the same way for further telephonic improvements.  He was now sure of $12,000 per year to live on, so he felt he could spend any other money he might receive in experimental and research work in his laboratory.

Later, when the telephone was being developed in England, Edison formed a company there.  When a threat of litigation from the owners of the Bell patent on the receiver came, Edison overcame this by producing a chalk receiver which, together with the carbon transmitter made what was called the loud speaking telephone.  The Bell Company, seeing that Edison could not be stopped, offered to buy him off for $150,000 to get rid of him.  This offer was accepted.  The chalk receiver was discontinued, because it was too loud for practical use.

Sources: Ernest J. Berggren - Edison Pioneer. History of G.E. 16-17.

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