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Posted at 1:47 AM ET, 02/11/2011

DOODLE OF THE DAY: Google Logo spotlights Edison's birthday

By Michael Cavna


O Google, you spoil us.

Days after your logo celebrated the birthday of writer Jules Verne, your home-page Google Doodle today marks the 164th birthday of Thomas Edison.

At this rate, a user could become accustomed to equally inventive logos every morn.

(Some of the California firm's more notable "Google Doodles," of course, have included the interactive PacMan game and the "Imagine" John Lennon animation, as well as the "Google Balls" that touted the company's new search-engine capabilities.)

Our favorite touch about today's animated logo is the luminous light bulb that brightens and fades, spotlighting the inventor's electric-light contributions. The catch, of course, is that it was Britain's Edward Swan who is credited with "inventing" the light bulb; but it was Edison who patented and popularized the electric light bulb in the United States. (Edison and Swan later merged their cross-the-Pond companies, and Swan said Edison's contributions to the incandescent bulb exceeded his own.)

Prior to his death in 1931, the Wizard of Menlo Park (heading a landmark industrial laboratory) held more than 1,000 patents, including for electrical printing machines, telephone technology, motion-picture cameras, mechanical vote-recorders, the stock ticker and the phonograph.

Speaking of: You can even watch a 16-second recording of Edison reenacting the first words he spoke into his phonograph in 1877:

Happy 164th, Thomas Alva Edison.

And note to Google: What we really want to see on July 10 is another doodled birthday tribute to the mad and mighty Nikola Tesla, whose electrical developments arguably hold even greater common currency today.

To read more about the Great Edison v. Tesla Feud -- whose intellect was more incandescent? and in reality, who swindled whom? -- here's a swell place to begin.


By Michael Cavna  | February 11, 2011; 1:47 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation  | Tags:  Google Doodles, Nikolas Tesla, Thomas Edison  
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Edison was a thief. The light bulb was invented in England and DC was a failure.

NIKOLA TESLA was the real brains of that Era.

Posted by: mickrussom | February 11, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Google did have a Tesla tribute on July 10, 2009:

Posted by: the_emperor1 | February 11, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Edison's forte' was public relations. To this end he distributed filler to fill up a newspaper column at the end of a newspaper's story that was too short to fill the column. These were focused on Edison's inventive genius. His incandescent light bulb using bamboo filaments lasted on average only 13 hours. A black man in his employ invented a much better filament.

Edison did his best to prevent the US from developing the polyphase alternating current power system it uses today. His system offered only Direct Current until the 1930s when it quit offering new DC service, and only offered AC service. But it kept its existing DC service until just a few years ago.

Edison early on secretly hired an agent named Brown to put on demonstrations that AC was unsafe by electrocuting dogs and cats, horses, cows, elephants using high voltage AC. He even bought some AC equipment from Westinghouse without telling him what he wanted it for, and used it to create the first death chair in Auburn Prison in New York State. His financier, Morgan, testified at State Legislatures that AC was unsafe and should be outlawed. Westinghouse hired a private detective who broke into Brown's desk and found invoices paid by Edison. See: Nikola Tesla, Forgotten American Scientist,

Posted by: Salubrius | February 11, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Nikola Tesla was the true inventor. time will always expose a crook.

Posted by: canadaguy | February 11, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

With the banning of the Incandescent Light Bulb, the name Edison will disappear. We have buffoons in Washington who do not understand the importance of planning for "Unintended Consequences." A new cottage industry will arise in about 2015 as the first of the batteries, propelling such cars as the Prius, are phased out and will need to be "dumped." Talk about pollution.

And how about the "Volt." Sure, it runs on electricity, not on gasoline. But where does that electricity come from? Outer space? And how about people who live in high-rises. Where do they plug in Volts?

Will Volts get a tax break if they're sold in Kenya?

Posted by: fregameeate | February 11, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

There is no question that the "modern" lifestyle that marked the 20th century came about because George Westinghouse's system of alternating current(which utilized patents that he purchased from Tesla and others) beat out Edison's (or more accurately, his staff's) system of direct current as the basis for our electric grid. Had Edison triumphed, we would have a coal-burning power plant every 10 miles along the power lines, and appliances 5 miles away would be underpowered while the ones adjacent to the plants would burn out rapidly. As it is, we use electricity generated in distant parts of the country, thanks to alternating current, so we should be enormously grateful that Edison lost out. Read about the "War of Currents" on Wikipedia here:
However, in addition to remembering Tesla, we should not overlook the contributions of Charles Proteus Steinmetz to the generation and distribution of alternating current.

Posted by: seismic-2 | February 11, 2011 8:29 PM | Report abuse

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