This man could fit in very well with most of the politicians we have today, and he probably would be right at home in their presence!
Thomas Edison/Radio Corporation of America
Attempting a monopoly of patents
The ability for inventors and aspiring minds to call an idea their own, and theirs alone, is a very important mark of a fair society. Unfortunately, history is littered by examples of intellectual property being swallowed up by big corporations. In particular, Thomas Edison and the companies he formed with his vast wealth (RCA, General Electric) have always had a habit of trying to abuse the patent system for profit. The reason that Hollywood is the home of the movie industry is that film-makers in the 1920s were forced to abandon the east-coast because of the high royalties that Edison charged them for use of camera technologies. Edison even had hired goons to harass them for money.
But it was a policy of the RCA (Radio Corporation of America) that caused untold damage for inventors of the 20th century. The official company policy was that “The Radio Corporation doesn’t pay royalties” and, allegedly, David Sarnoff, the proud general manager of the company, boasted “we collect them [royalties]”. They repeatedly steamrolled inventors and small businesses to acquire their patents without licensing them, forcing the companies to collapse into the RCA’s arms because of the mounting legal fees. However, there is one notable exception – the inventor of electronic television, Philo T. Farnsworth, had his patent for electronic television and other components (notably the image dissector) approved in the early 30s, and no matter what the RCA did, they couldn’t get round Farnsworth’s patents. In 1939, a month after the war had started, the RCA accepted to pay, for the first time in their corporate history, a $1,000,000 patent license for Farnsworth’s electronic television. Legend has it there were tears in the eyes of the RCA men as they signed the document.
This whole practice was extremely unethical in terms of the technologies these companies prevented from reaching the market. Farnsworth hoped that “television would bring people together and prevent war”, but because of the RCA’s actions and endless lawsuits, television never got going until the 50s.
Back in the days of Edison and his cronies, the great men of wealth pretty much controlled the government and their actions. In some ways, not a lot different than today!
Coffee in the kitchen this morning because it looks a lot like more rain!