It was likely his first live radio broadcast, and indicated he had overcome his antipathy toward radio.
On May 21, 1928, the House of Representatives voted to approve a bill to award inventor Thomas A. Edison a Congressional Gold Medal. This is the highest civilian award within the gift of Congress. The chairman’s report submitted to the House contained a letter from Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, who...
On May 21, 1928, the House of Representatives voted to approve a bill to award inventor Thomas A. Edison a Congressional Gold Medal. This is the highest civilian award within the gift of Congress. The chairman’s report submitted to the House contained a letter from Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, who noted the lack of domestic recognition for Edison given the outpouring of international accolades for his inventions. “Wearing in the lapel of his coat the ribbon of the Legion of Honor of France, symbolized and honored by eight other foreign nations, the recipient of degrees from 22 colleges,” Mellon wrote, “Mr. Edison has yet to receive a medal at the hands of the United States.” The House agreed and passed the resolution. President Calvin Coolidge signed the legislation on May 29, 1928.
Secretary Mellon awarded Edison the medal on October 20, 1928, in his West Orange, New Jersey laboratory. President Coolidge spoke via a radio link from the White House. Nearly 50 radio stations broadcast the ceremony. The Edison Company filmed the broadcast for posterity, a film that still exists. People from around the country wrote Edison to congratulate him, and he responded.
Typed letter signed, on his distinctive Laboratory letterhead, Orange, New Jersey, October 25, 1928, to William Allen. “Allow me to thank you for your courteous letter of October 22. I am glad to learn that the broadcasting of the ceremonies last Saturday night was a source of enjoyment to you. I was greatly interested and somewhat amused in reading of the incident you relate in regard to Professor Wright and Mr. Lee, and thank you for relating the story to me.”
Up until 1928, Edison had an antipathy to radio, believing it was only a fad. The radio broadcast of his Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony may well have been his first live radio broadcast. He did another in 1929, with President Hoover. And bowing to the inevitable, his company began manufacturing radios.
This is the only letter of Thomas Edison we can recall seeing that related to a performance of his on the radio.
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