Thomas Edison. The "Wizard of Menlo Park." Described as one of the "world's most prolific inventors" with a record-breaking 1,093 patents to his name. You know, a guy could round up and kidnap a buttload of children and keep them forever, but would you call that guy the "world's most prolific father?" No, of course not. A "soulless monster," maybe. A "skilled thief," if you're being generous. Perhaps even the "King of Pop." But you wouldn't call that guy "the world's most prolific father," because those aren't his kids. He stole them. Such is the case with Thomas Edison.
Sure, Cracked's staunchly anti-Thomas Edison stance is already fairly well documented, but we're afraid one article detailing what a prick this prick was just isn't enough. Edison is still celebrated in schools across the country for inventing the light bulb, the motion picture, electricity and a shit-ton of other important crap he had very little to do with.
Edison's only original invention, the "Face Vacuum."
Since there literally isn't enough space on the internet to cover all of the inventions that Edison didn't invent, we're just going to focus on the light bulb today.
Who Actually Invented It?
Everyone else. We all know how Edison exploited and took advantage of the poor, but brilliant Nikola Tesla, but who else did Edison step on? Sit back.
Plenty of people messed around with the idea of the light bulb, (Jean Foucault, Humphrey Davy, J.W. Starr, some other guys you'll never read about in a history text book), but Heinrich Goebel was likely the first person to have actually invented it, back in 1854. He tried selling it to Edison, who saw no practical use in Goebel's invention and refused. Shortly thereafter, Goebel died and, shortly after that, Edison bought Goebel's patent, (you know, the one he saw no merit in), off of Goebel's impoverished widow at a cost much lower than what it was worth.
One of nine light bulbs Edison accidentally got wedged in his anus during its development
Screwing over just one inventor might be alright for Galileo, but Edison was a dreamer and he couldn't be satisfied with just one, dead disgraced inventor under his belt. So, after Goebel, and a year before Edison "invented" his light bulb, Joseph Wilson Swan developed and patented a working light bulb. When it was clear Edison's "Fuck Swan" defense wouldn't hold up in court, he made Swan a partner, forming the Ediswan United Company and effectively buying Swan and his patent.
Soon enough, Edison acquired even more power and bought out Swan completely leaving all records of the light bulb under the care of the Edison Company. Sure, Swan had money, but in buying all of the records, Edison could take sole credit for the light bulb. So, he's got a laundry list of inventors he's either stepped on, bullied, exploited or bought out to his name, but what do they say about Edison in the textbooks? Father of the fucking light bulb.
If you liked that, you'll probably enjoy Dan's look at The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All Time. Or, head over to the blog and read his musings on why Boondock Saints doesn't need a sequel. For a look at some more modern douchebags, watch Cracked.com's Week In Douchebaggery.