Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter Speaker Event - A History of Inventing in New Jersey: From Thomas Edison to the Ice Cream Cone

Winter Speaker Event - A History of Inventing in New Jersey: From Thomas Edison to the Ice Cream Cone
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 7:15 pm.
Township of Ocean Board of Education Offices (Old Oakhurst School), Auditorium,
163 Monmouth Road, Oakhurst, NJ 07755

Band-Aids. Movies. Color television. Bubble Wrap. Bar codes. The modern submarine. What do all of these things have in common? Give up? They were all invented in the great state of New Jersey! New Jersey is truly the land of inventions. M&M’s, solar panels, transistors, flexible film and Graham crackers are but a few of the useful and unique creations from the minds of Garden State residents. Not to mention the 1,093 patents issued to Thomas Alva Edison.

Since Edison opened the first research and development laboratory in Menlo Park, the Garden State has been known as the Innovation State. As Alex Magoun, former director of the David Sarnoff Library, put it, “The state’s twentieth-century history is filled with the technologies we take for granted, from electronic television and antibiotics to the transistor and liquid crystal displays.”

New Jersey inventors and innovators have changed the lives of people around the world. From the phonograph to the electric guitar, from the telegraph to Telstar and from baseball to college football, hundreds of products and ideas got their start in New Jersey. What makes New Jersey the state where ideas grow? Is it because we’ve been home to so many communications and pharmaceutical companies, including Bell Labs, Sarnoff, Johnson & Johnson and Edison’s invention factory? Is it our proximity to Philadelphia and New York? Or does the fact that we’re the most densely populated state mean that bright people are also densely packed in the Garden State?

Whatever the reason, New Jersey has produced hundreds of thousands of new ideas, including innovations in the fields of transportation (the steam locomotive and the steerable balloon), communications (satellites and cell phones), household improvements (air conditioning and the electric knife), entertainment (movies and the phonograph), food (condensed soup and the ice cream cone) and medicine (streptomycin and the artificial knee).

In 1987, Dr. Saul Fenster and Philip Sperber established the nation’s first and, to date, only statewide hall of fame for inventors. In 1977, the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office began comparing by state the number of patents issued. New Jersey companies and residents have received 115,000 patents since that date. Only California, Texas and New York have more, and those states have much larger populations. 

Linda J. Barth, author of "A History of Inventing in New Jersey" highlights the life-changing breakthroughs--from the transistor to the bar code--invented in New Jersey and documented in her latest book.

The talk, part of the Museum Speakers' Series, is open to the public, free of charge. Donations are always appreciated. Refreshments are served. Please bring a non-perishable item for the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

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