All his life, Thomas Edison was a believer in to-do lists. He always had “idea books” filled with things to do, notes, sketches and information on current and future projects. Here’s a peek into his five-page “Things doing and to be done” from one of his “idea book” from 1888. That year alone, Edison would execute 45 patents. Looks like he truly believed what he preached:“genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration”

Just looking at his list can be tiring… 🙂

TAE                 Jany (January) 3 1888

Things doing and to be done:

  • Cotton Picker
  • New Standard Phonograph
  • Hand turning phonograph
  • New Slow speed cheap Dynamo
  • New Expansion Pyromagnetic Dynamo
  • Deaf Apparatus
  • Electrical Piano
  • Long distance standard Telephone Transmitter which employs devices of recording phonogh
  • Telephone Coil of Fe [iron] by tt in Parafine or other insulator
  • Platina Point Trans using new phono Recorder devices
  • Gred Battery for Telephones
  • “ “ “ “ Long Distance
  • “ “ “ — Phonoplex
  • “ “ “ Jump Telegraph
  • “ “ “ Voltmeter
  • Improved Magnetic Bridge for practical work
  • Motograph Mirror
  • “ Relay
  • “ Telephone practical
  • Artificial Cable
  • Phone motor to work on 100 volt ckts
  • Duplicating Phono Cylinders
  • Deposit in vacuo on lace, gold + silver also on cotton molten chemical compound of lustrous surfaces to imitate silk— also reg plating system
  • Vacuous Ore milling Large Machine
  • Magnetic Separator Large
  • Locking material for Iron sand

Page 2

  • Artificial Silk
  • Artificial filiments [sic]
  • New [illeg.]
  • Uninflammable Insulating Material
  • Good wax for phonograph
  • Phonographic Clock
  • Large Phonograph for Novels, etc.
  • Pig Iron Expmts with Electricity + Magnetism
  • Malleablizing Cast now in Vacuo
  • Drawing fine wire
  • Joy phonograph for Dolls
  • Cable Motograph
  • Very Loud Motograph telephone with 1/3 siz phonogh motor.
  • Magneto telephone with actual contact end magnet compression of an adjustable rubber press as in new phones
  • Snow Compressor
  • Glass plate water ore repeator
  • Tinned faced [illeg.] for Stove Castings
  • Refining Copper Electrically
  • Quad neutral relay
  • Cheap low induct Cop Insulating material for Lead Cable people
  • Constant moved for nonfoundry

Page 3

  • 200 volt 20 cp lamp
  • Cheap [illeg.] Indicator
  • Recording Valt Indicator
  • Box balancing System
  • Alternating Machine + Transformer
  • Sifua Surface Switches
  • Vulcanizing [illeg.] African Rubber adullement
  • Platinum wire [illeg.] cutting Machine
  • Silver wire wood cutting system
  • Silvering or Coppering bathing cloth in Vac for durability
  • S Mater attend own with new devices for c speed
  • Expansion mirror plat… wire in vacuo
  • Photoghy
  • Photoghy by camping heat after central points
  • Boron fil.
  • Hg [mercury] out of Lamp
  • Phonaplex Repeater
  • Squirting glass sheet tube etc. Nickel [illeg.]
  • Artificial Mother Pearl
  • Red Lead pencils equal to graphite
  • India Ink
  • Tracing Cloth
  • Ink for blind

Page 4

  • Fluffy Incandescent Burner for gas
  • Regenerative Kerosene Burner
  • Centralized arc in arc Lamp
  • Cai–[illeg.] Tesla arc lamp test
  • Strengthening alternating cli by sternt Dynamo
  • ERR Cont [illeg.] reducers
  • Electroplating Machines for Schenectady
  • Condenser Transformer
  • Sqr ft difraction gratings in silver by 5000 [illeg.]tool special [illeg.] lathe for ornamental purposes
  • Photo Scant–[illeg.]
  • Cheap plan produce Mimeograph surfaces
  • Miners battery + lamp
  • Sorting Coal from Slate Machine
  • Butter direct from Milk
  • Burning asphalt Candles by high chimney
  • Magnets RR signals
  • Soften [illeg.] of books transfer to Cop plate + plate to [illeg.] matrix
  • Telephone Repeater
  • Substitute for Hard rubber
  • Artificial Ivory
  • Soften Vegetable Ivory to press in sheets
  • Various batteries on [illeg.] Type
  • Revolving Thermo

Page 5

  • Caller Indicator for Jump Telegh
  • Marine Telegraphy
  • Long distance speaking tube filled H20 2 dia pressure
  • Lend plate battery for modifying attending Current
  • Two revolving bands in battery Lead faced press in liquid close together + out into separate chambers to [illeg.] reduce by gas the other
  • Siren phonogh
  • Perm mag like an electromag of [illeg.] hand steel high polish separately magnetized + forced together powerfully [illeg.]
  • Telephone working more [illeg.]
  • Eartubes formed crescent [illeg.] wire
  • Long strip 50 cp carbon under stress [illeg.] for
  • Cheap Voltmeter
  • Chalk Battery
  • Dynamo or motor long tube in long magnetic field top + bottom contacts forcing water through generator current by – passage.
  • [Illeg.]
  • Thermo battery slick Copper oxidized then plated over surface oxide nailed to make good contact [illeg.]

Image courtesy: Rutgers University, from the collection of Thomas Edison NHP