THOMAS EDISON USES HIS DICTATION MACHINE, THE EDIPHONE, FOR PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE
EDISON, THOMAS. (1847-1931). American inventor and businessman. Typed Letter boldly Signed, “Thos. A. Edison,” on his imprinted From the Laboratory of Thomas A. Edison, Orange, N.J. stationary. One full page, quarto. February 4, 1927. Accompanied by original imprinted Laboratory of Thomas A. Edison, Orange N.J. envelope addressed in type to “Mr. W. E. Cooper, Henwick Lodge, 212, Henwick Road, Worcester, England,” with a red two cent stamp and circular “Orange N.J.” postal cancellation. Edison writes:
“My dear Mr. Cooper: It was very thoughtful and kind of you to send me such a pleasant friendly letter conveying your congratulations and good wishes on my approaching birthday. I appreciate this remembrance from a fellow-worker in the scientific world, and as your birthday coincides with my own, allow me to say that I heartily reciprocate all your good wishes. Please also accept my thanks for the tortoise shell cigarette box. It is very handsome and I am taking it home with me. Yours very truly, Thos. A. Edison.”
Thomas A. Edison held 1,097 United States patents, including those for the light bulb, motion picture camera, and the phonograph. One of the first inventors to utilize mass production, Edison also invented the Ediphone, a dictation machine marketed for business use. It was hoped that the Ediphone would reduce the need for stenographers, allowing letters to be recorded on a wax cylinder which would be delivered directly to a secretary or the typing pool for transcription. In direct competition with the Columbia Dictaphone, the two expensive machines split a small market; 20,000 recording units were sold on average each month, compared with 50,000 typewriters. This letter, marked “Ediphoned-C” in the bottom left corner, highlights Edison’s use of the Ediphone in his response to the good wishes and birthday gift of W.E. Cooper, a lesser known and much less prolific member of the scientific community than Edison. If you want an Edison the ‘shows’ well and is intimately tied with the use of one of his early inventions, then this is the letter for you!