American History13 Jul 2010 02:13 pm
Thomas Edison invented so many things — there are over 1000 patents in his name — that it’s hard to keep track. The lightbulb and the phonograph are certainly at the top of any list, but what about the Carbonizing Chamber? or his Method of Bricking Fine Iron Ores?? or the Apparatus for Translating Electric Currents From High to Low Tension??? Those haven’t made quite the impact on pop culture that some of Edison’s more durable — or, rather, understandable — works have. However, it’s rather odd that Edison’s name isn’t more closely associated with the movies.
Thomas Edison invented the motion picture, and his kinetoscopes were some of the first movie theaters. But Edison’s studio wasn’t important to the history of American movies—for anything other than technical reasons. That honor goes to Biograph, M.G.M., Warner Brothers, a few others. And these studios weren’t peppered throughout the country. They were all in Southern California: the farthest point in the United States from Edison’s lawyers and their fervent defense of his patents. That’s right: “The Magician of Menlo Park” tried keeping movies all to himself, and Hollywood was created for legal and geographic reasons.
Want to give Edison his due? Watch this two-minute compilation of some of his early films:
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