Famous inventors and their furry muses
As I listen to my assistant read me page after page of world history, I'm fascinated to learn of the roles many of my four-legged ancestors (and one furball) played in the development of some the world's greatest inventions.
I've just got to share my new-found knowledge with you!
Whitney propelled the south's economic development with his cotton gin (gin = short for engine). The apparatus separated the seeds from the the cotton and could clean up to 55 pounds of cotton per day.
Whitney's muse for his great invention? A cat. He was pondering ways to improve cotton production when he witnessed a cat trying to pull a chicken through a fence with only some of the feathers able to make it through.
I shudder to think where humans would be without their phones - instant access, 24/7. Sometimes I long for the old days I've heard about, days when life moved at a much slower pace and the ticking of the old mantel clock created a soothing adagio soundtrack to everyday life.
Mr. Bell would amaze onlookers by using his hand to manipulate his Skye Terrier, Trouve's, vocal chords (as he growled), producing a crude imitation of the sentence, "How are you grandma?" Spectators were amazed and convinced they had just witnessed a talking dog.
It doesn't sound like Trouve was harmed during these demonstrations though I'm sure having Bell's hand shoved in his mouth wasn't on Trouve's top 10 list of "Fun things to do with Dad." Hopefully he was rewarded with buckets of treats and attention since this early experiment propelled Bell onward to more serious explorations into the transmission of sound.
I can't deny that the man was a genius but I'm sorely disheartened to learn of his disregard for the lives of animals, even though he is quoted as saying, "I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill" and "Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." Sounds good, doesn't it?
However, in Edison's efforts to protect his financial interests in his patented direct current (DC), and prove that Westinghouse's new alternating current (AC) was much more dangerous, he electrocuted many cats, dogs, cattle and horses (a process he referred to snidely as getting "Westinghoused").
But he didn't stop there...with a crowd of 1,500 spectators looking on, he electrocuted an abused circus elephant named Topsy. The details of Topsy's abuse are heart-wrenching and the video Edison shot of the macabre event is like something from my worst nightmare. Shame on you Mr. Edison.
On a much kinder note, Nipper the terrier was used as artist Francis Barraud's muse for his painting titled, "His Late Master's Voice," which was purchased by several recording companies including RCA. Nipper has secured his place in history as the iconic RCA pup staring quizzically into a gramophone's trumpet.
Prior to Eastmans' invention of roll film, photos were taken using photographic plates. With Eastman's Kodak roll film and Kodak roll film camera he revolutionized photography by making the tools both affordable and available to the general public.
Eastman owned several dogs during his lifetime though it was his first dog who seemed to leave an indelible impression on the inventor. In a letter written to long-time friend, Susan Brown, he laments, "I cried all night" the day his pup was stolen by an Erie Canal boatman.
This confirms my suspicions that it was intense love and admiration for a dog that fueled Eastman's desire to develop a way for all humans to capture the awesomeness, handsomeness, beauty and antics of their furry friends for all eternity.