While many people spent the summer looking for lost episodes of the walking dead, I immersed myself into the lost episodes of geek history.
I have been downloading and watching videos on the early days of computers and the internet from the Internet Archive (Archive.org), a non-profit digital library offering free universal access to a wide variety of information. The the Doug Engelbart Institute has the outline of the two day Vannevar Bush Symposium on their website which includes links to the video archives from the 1995 event available online at the Internet Archive. The Vannevar Bush Symposium in 1995 was the ultimate geek convention. I know not everyone is going to run to the Internet Archive to download the 1995 Vannevar Bush Symposium, but I hope by discussing the event at GeekHistory it will stir up some thoughts to make a few people want to learn more.
I have watched dozens of YouTube videos on famous geeks. I am fascinated by the inventions and innovations from the modern industrial era in America. It is amusing the myths and misinformation surrounding various inventors and inventions, most notably the famous inventor Thomas Edison.
Vacation road trips explore GeekHistory
Earlier this year we visited the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. One of the exhibits allows you to interact with inventor George Westinghouse and ask him questions about his many achievements including his rivalry with Thomas Edison. The exhibit stirred up many thoughts and a renewed interest in the myths and legends surrounding Thomas Edison.
Recently on a road trip to Michigan we visited the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, near Detroit. As a tourist attraction and somewhere to learn about things and stretch your mind a bit, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is the ultimate geek history complex of the Industrial Revolution. Henry Ford was a geek in every sense of the word, and Ford did a very nice job of bringing history together at the museum complex.
Henry Ford was lifelong friends with one of the most famous geeks of the twentieth century, Thomas Alva Edison. Before I visited the museum complex, I did not realize that Henry Ford started his career as an employee of Edison. As I viewed the many exhibits and listed to the guides describe the inventions of Edison, it became clear to me that the Greenfield Village is a shrine to Thomas Edison.
Edison's laboratory from Menlo Park, New Jersey, along with several boxcars of soil surrounding it, were moved from New Jersey to Greenfield Village in Michigan. The buildings were laid out according to exact foundation measurements from the original site. The exhibit was furnished with original item or faithful duplicates placed in the lab as they would be found in the original setting. The chair that Edison sat it when the exhibit was dedicated in 1929 has been nailed to the floor, never to be moved, and never to be sat in again. It is a shrine in every sense of the word, a sacred place dedicated to a specific figure of respect with numerous objects associated with the figure being worshipped.
As we explore the origins of all things geek we take a look at the inventors as much as we do the inventions. I mentioned in my introduction to the GeekHistory website that sometimes the perspective of the story teller may bring a few new insights on a topic. The stories of Thomas Edison and all the people of his era sure have some interesting connections. I just updated my article on Thomas Edison on GeekHistory.com and I have a lot more to say about the man and the legacy of Edison on GeekHistory in the very near future. Follow GeekHistory on Twitter or the GeekHistory Facebook page for updates and additional articles coming soon.
Photo: taken by Tom Peracchio at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan
Edison's laboratory from Menlo Park, New Jersey
Connect with Tom Peracchio on Google