|Thomas Alva Edison|
|The Failed Inventions|
One concept that never took off was Edison's interest in using cement to build things. He formed the Edison Portland Cement Co. in 1899, and made everything from cabinets (for phonographs) to pianos and houses. Unfortunately, at the time, concrete was too expensive and the idea was never accepted. Cement wasn't a total failure, though. His company was hired to build Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Thomas Alva Edison assistant W.K.L. Dickson's attempt at a sound film circa 1895.
From the beginning of the creation of motion pictures, many people tried to combine film and sound to make "talking" motion pictures. Here you can see to the left an example of an early film attempting to combine sound with pictures made by Edison's assistant, W.K.L. Dickson. By 1895, Edison had created the Kinetophone--a Kinetoscope (peep-hole motion picture viewer) with a phonograph that played inside the cabinet. Sound could be heard through two ear tubes while the viewer watched the images. This creation never really took off, and by 1915 Edison abandoned the idea of sound motion pictures.
Thomas Alva Edison sitting at the door of the ore-milling plant in New Jersey circa 1895
The greatest failure of Thomas Edison's career was his inability to create a practical way to mine iron ore. He worked on mining methods through the late 1880s and early 1890s to supply the Pennsylvania steel mills' demand for iron ore. In order to finance this work, he sold all his stock in General Electric, but was never able to create a separator that could extract iron from unusable, low-grade ores. Eventually, Edison gave up on the idea, but by then he had lost all the money he'd invested.
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