Invention Factory

Invention Factory
By Don Terrill (c)2005

Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio; the seventh and last child of Samuel and Nancy Edison. When Edison was seven his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan. Edison lived here until he struck out on his own at the age of sixteen. Edison had very little formal education as a child, attending school only for a few months. He was taught reading, writing, and arithmetic by his mother, but was always a very curious child and taught himself much by reading on his own. This belief in self-improvement remained throughout his life.

In 1876 Edison moved his family and staff of assistants to the small village of Menlo Park, twenty-five miles southwest of New York City. Edison established a new facility containing all the equipment necessary to work on any invention. This research and development laboratory was the first of its kind anywhere; the model for later, modern facilities such as Bell Laboratories, this is sometimes considered to be Edison's greatest invention. It would later become know as the "Invention Factory." Here Edison began to change the world.

Invention Factory
Edison Employees

Edison said he created a minor invention every 10 days and a "big trick" every 6 month. He had at least 40 projects going at any given time and applied for almost 400 patents a year.

How to build an invention factory for racing:
  1. Build a dedicated area - Partition off a section in your current race shop or think big and put up a completely new building.
  2. Fill it with the right equipment - This should be testing equipment and machinery for producing prototypes.
  3. Create an efficient layout - Create a work area that flows. Put design at one end, production in the middle and testing at the other end.
  4. Surround yourself with great minds - Not likely many racers will have the money to hire "staff", but how about forming a coalition of sharp racers to use and support the factory?
  5. Test, Test, Test - This was certainly one of Edison's secrets to success - he out-tested his competition. He actually wore his mistakes like a badge of honor.
  6. Forget normal sleep - Edison claimed to sleep four to five hours a night, but he often "catnapped" at the office as well. Catnaps would help him work through the night, which he often did. His office had a cot for taking naps, but he might nap on the floor or a nearby table. Then he would go home and sleep through most of the next day.

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