Chapter 9. Shipping Is an Art—and a Science

The Invention Versus the Manufactured Article

It’s traditional to work until someone just takes it away from you. Films are not released. They escape.

BEN BURTT, SOUND DESIGNER, FILM EDITOR, AND DIRECTOR FOR THE STAR WARS FILMS[165]

Thomas Edison was under the gun.

It was 1882. He was years removed from the dazzling display of light he’d exhibited to the public on New Year’s Eve in 1880 when he’d opened the gates to his secretive Menlo Park lab. It was the first time that the world had seen the power of electric light in one place. Edison even went as far to invent Christmas lights for the occasion.[166]

About 3,000 unsuspecting, perhaps skeptical, pilgrims had arrived at night onto the train platform of sleepy Menlo Park. What they saw rivaled anything they could see even in Manhattan, which was 20 miles away: the village was bathed with the non-flickering light of electric bulbs.[167]

The crowd’s energy—no pun intended—must have rubbed off on him. Because Edison then publicly promised to bring the technology to an urban site: New York’s Pearl Street. The road to bringing electricity out of the labs was wrought with pitfalls. Not only did he have to recreate what he did in a lab in the real world, but he and his team had to design all of the components of an electrical system (switches, sockets, generators, etc.), and had to find a proper site while lining up early customers. Wow.[168]

On top of that, Edison didn’t have a pricing model worked ...

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