We start the new year with two old movies.
A Day with Thomas A. Edison is a twenty-minute silent documentary shot by J. R. Bray Studios in 1922. It illustrates, perhaps more clearly than its makers intended, the strangely self-enclosed world of the deaf inventor's research establishment. It also reminds one of the largely forgotten role of women in the early electrical industry, and of the extent to which that industry was still essentially a craft even in the Twenties. Light bulbs, unlike the "flivvers" of Edison's friend Henry Ford, did not yet roll off impersonal assembly lines.
The modern cinema was another of Edison's creations. While most of his short films were intended purely as entertainment, a few were educational. The 8-minute 1914 Wonders of Magnetism is of high enough quality that it could easily be used in physics education today. The magnetic ore-separation scheme at the end was one of Edison's few unprofitable inventions; it is interesting that he chose to include it.