The Menlo Park laboratory is perhaps Edison's most unheralded invention. There had never been anything like it before: a place where a small group of men completely devoted themselves to technological research in an environment that resembled a cooperative society more than a business. Although Edison demanded long hours and loyalty from his employees, he rewarded them with a workplace that shunned hierarchy and encouraged free spirits (the staff took breaks to eat and smoke together, and after long sessions they would all gather around an organ and sing). In its approach to invention, the Menlo Park laboratory resembled contemporary industrial research laboratories, and in its approach to team building, it resembled contemporary Internet companies. The patent battles over the telephone offer an excellent view into the world of inventors in the late nineteenth century. As the battles between Gray and Bell show, it was not
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