Neatorama readers know plenty about Thomas Edison, but what do you know about Thomas Edison, Jr.? His life turned out completely different from his father’s. As you might guess, the inventor, being a very busy man, did not have much time for his son, either in nurturing a relationship or in guiding him to follow his father’s footsteps. And since the older Edison was a very famous man, Junior had the added burden of high expectations without the necessary training or talent.
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To mask his sensitivity and deep insecurities, Thomas Jr. took a cue from his father and turned to bravado and self-aggrandizing, and also alcohol. In New York, he soaked up the attention of journalists and reporters and made them believe that he’d be the next best American inventor, even claiming to have fashioned a light bulb better than that of his dad. The man who simply did not have his father’s brains (in science) soon got involved with shady enterprises selling all kinds of snake oil products because having a guy carrying the Edison name be the head of your company sure sounded like a good idea at the time. The Thomas A. Edison, Jr. Chemical Co. sold “Wizard Ink” tablets that not only capitalized on Thomas Senior’s “Wizard” moniker but were also nothing more than a mediocre writing tool with questionable testing methods behind it.
But mediocre inventions were nothing new, not even back then, and few people beside Wizard Edison batted an eye over Junior’s “just add some water” ink. It wasn’t until the release of the Magno-Electric Vitalizer invention in 1904 that things really started turning bad for the young Edison. Jumping on the “Woah, electromagnetism!” bandwagon, his company claimed to have invented a machine that could cure everything from paralysis, kidney disease, deafness, and menstrual cramps. Heck, they even claimed that the device could literally make a person smarter.
Read about Thomas Edison, Jr. and how his business ventures turned out at Cracked.