Vol. 3 Menlo Park: The Early Years, April 1876-December 1877

Photo: Edison and Phonograph. The third volume of this widely acclaimed series reveals the breathtaking intensity, intellectual acumen, and vast self-confidence of the twenty-nine-year-old Thomas Edison. In the depths of the 1870s depression, he moved his independent research and development laboratory from industrial Newark to pastoral Menlo Park, some fifteen miles to the south on the main line of the railroad from New York to Philadelphia.

There, equipped with resources for experimental development, extraordinary for the time, Edison and a few close associates began twenty months of research that expanded their well-established accomplishments in telegraphy into pioneering work on the telephone. Edison's ideas and techniques from telegraph message recording and the telephone led next to his invention of the phonograph, for which he filed the first patent in December 1877. This invention ultimately gave Edison a worldwide reputation—and the nickname "the Wizard of Menlo Park."

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