New Book: Thomas Edison and the Rise of Innovation

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EdisonCoverThomas Alva Edison, one of the leading innovators of all time comes alive like never before in Edison and the Rise of Innovation (Sterling, 2013) by Leonard DeGraaf.  Perhaps America’s first business celebrity, Edison was more than history’s most prolific inventor.

Edison pursued more than a thousand patents by combining scientific knowledge, well-equipped laboratories, talented collaborators, investment capital and a bit of showmanship, according to DeGraaf, who argues that in the process Edison changed the way we innovate new technologies.

DeGraaf, archivist for the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, chronicles Edison’s life and work, making use of never-before-published primary sources to reveal the places where he lived and worked, including his laboratories in New Jersey and Florida.  The book includes snippets of Edison’s personal and business correspondence, lab notebooks, drawings, and advertising material, along with both historic and modern photographs.  Another famous innovator, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, has written the foreword to the book.

Before joining the National Park Service in 1991, DeGraaf was on the staff of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.  He is the author of Historic Photos of Thomas Edison (Turner Publishing, 2008), and his articles have appeared Business History Review and other publications.  He received an MA in history from Rutgers University.

Edison and the Rise of Innovation was produced in collaboration with the Edison Innovation Foundation, the Charles Edison Fund, and Thomas Edison National Historical Park. The Edison Innovation Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the Edison legacy and encourages students to embrace careers in science, technology, and engineering. A partner of the National Park Service, the Foundation raises funds to support Thomas Edison National Historical Park. The Charles Edison Fund, based in Newark, NJ, is an endowed philanthropic institution dedicated to the support of medical research, science education, and historic preservation.

You can find out more about the book, tour Edison’s New Jersey lab, or watch the book trailer here.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park is a unit of the National Park Service that preserves and interprets the West Orange Laboratory and Home of inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Information is available at

Note: Books noticed on The New York History Blog have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

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