Does Stross think Edison was a good businessman (as opposed to being a good inventor. Explain? No he does not think that Edison is a good businessman. He thinks that too many times Edison’s stubbornness gets in the way of him succeeding. He will not move on from a strategy when it does not help him. Stross realizes that Edison wants control of his inventions, but is not really aware of what it takes to both invent and then make good decisions about the business. Also Edison really doesn’t like the role of being a businessman. In truth he is disinterested, as he would rather be in the lab. I think that Edison at times is afraid of letting someone else making those decisions. Edison knows that he needs a flow of money to enable the labs to stay on task, he is always promoting himself and his inventions by promoting what he is working on at the time to the press. But when it comes to marketing Edison doesn’t always have a clear idea of whom to market his inventions. As an example his phonograph , he is very stubborn in targeting the phonograph towards the business market thinking that it is a device to record minutes to meetings and dictation. At the same time everybody around him knows that its biggest market would be in recording for entertainment purposes, like recorded music. When it first comes to the public’s notice everybody sees its use being for entertainment. It seems that one of the reasons that he loses interest is that he cannot see what everybody else sees. He also acts on an idea without thinking about cost factors an example can be found in the first paragraph on 146 when it is describing the cost of laying cable in Manhattan for his electrical lines to be installed , Edison proposes paying 30,000 dollars a mile without paying attention to the fact that Western Union is only paying 500 dollars a mile to lay their cable. A director in the company notes that “If he would leave it to practical businessmen to make money out of it and stick to his inventions , the company in time would become very rich.” This also shows that the people around him must have been very frustrated by his lack of business understanding.
Why did Edison treat his immediate family, especially his wives the way he did?
I don’t think he could take his mind off his passion, which was inventing. I think in many ways he did not see that he was neglecting his family and probably thought that his role was as provider. Foremost in his mind at all times was inventions and as they called it a” kaleidoscope” of ideas working in his mind.It almost seems as if the thoughts that dominated his mind was the price of genius, as if he could not shake them and did not want to. When his first wife died he seemed to pause long enough to find a new wife, as if he knew that it was a need for his kids. He directed his energies in that direction to fill that need. Once he married Mina he seemed to go directly back to the lab, as if he had solved that problem and could go back to his passion. There was certainly a disconnect between him and his family, at the same time it would be too harsh to say that he did not love them. My sense was that he did, but had no idea how to divide up his time and commit to both his lab and his family.
Did Edison control the nature of his own fame or did the press do more to shape that public perception.
Edison thought that he was controlling his fame, and more importantly he thought that he had to keep the funding coming in. But in truth it was the press that was creating who Edison was perceived to be. Edison did have natural abilities to promote himself and the press was hungry to take something he said and run with it, but in the end it was them that developed the perception of Edison. It helped that they saw the story of the inventor that came from nothing, with little formal education and imagined all these possibilities. I think that Edison always thought that he was in control, partly because so much of the press liked and nurtured his story. Edison knew that he always needed to keep funding to keep his laboratory running, therefore he knew that good press would keep interested investors watching him. Because of needing that funding Edison always made himself available and because of the times and fascination with new technologies He was a natural story that the press latched onto. It is true that he seemed to have a few reporters that helped promote him whenever he wanted attention. I suppose in a way this was part Edison and part the press, but when they jumped to the “Wizard of Menlo Park”, this was the writer’s’ creation. Thats when the story became mythical in perception.