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'[OT] Dumbest Circuit I Ever Built that Worked'
2006\03\02@162721 by Martin McCormick

       I got interested in electronics when I was 5 which would have
been 1956.  My father was a science teacher at the time and I had
uncles and aunts that worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone.  I knew
that the neatest thing in the entire world was to do stuff with
electricity.  Nothing else quite hit the spot like hooking up
something and making it work.  Sure, I tore up a lot of perfectly good
stuff and sometimes got shocked, although not often, but the point is
that that is part of the learning process.

       I am just as interested to read historical accounts of the
early pioneers in electronics.  One of the issues of "Newsweek," which
I think was October 11 of 2004, contains a story about Thomas Edison's
quest to make a light bulb that worked.  He was originally using
platinum for the filament and he, one day, invited a bunch of
investors to his lab to show him where their money was going.

       They snuffed out all the lamps in a darkened room and Edison
had an assistant turn up a rheostat connected to ten bulbs in series
powered by a storage battery bank.

       Someone described seeing each filament glowing orange and
getting brighter as the current increased while Edison urged, "more

       Next, the account says that one of the bulbs suddenly began to
give off a bright point of light like a star coming out and then the
filament audibly popped and the room was plunged back in to darkness.

       They quickly brought a new bulb and tried again.  Another lamp
opened up and so forth.

       The story says that Edison and his associates had to do some
fast talking to avoid a mutiny of the investors.

       Good for us that platinum didn't exactly work.  It was
apparently dangerous to work with as well as extremely expensive even

       The article also notes that what Edison did that was truly
amazing was to devise the first electric power distribution system.
He had to design everything from ways of metering power to safety
features to prevent electrocution and fires.  This was probably the
biggest contribution since the electric light bulb was much more
useful when there was a whole power infrastructure to light it.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK
Systems Engineer
OSU Information Technology Department Network Operations Group

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