Thomas edison meets

oberlin smith...

...and the rest is history!


A colorfully imagined “comic strip” interpretation of how the historic meetup between Edison and Smith in 1878 resulted in Smith’s invention of magnetic recording. The series was created by two freshman students at Bridgeton HS--Carolyn Gomez and Tiffany Saquicaray--in 2016. 

What is especially striking (and delightful) is how their narrative captures Smith’s “tinkerer” personality (and basic humility) in not seeking any competitive advantage for his own improved design. While he did patent his magnetic recording device, he made no attempt to manufacture or market it, with the result that Edison’s phonograph became the industry standard and real improvements in the quality of sound recording were delayed more than a generation. Smith’s patent was rediscovered after he died, when other engineers began to move in the same direction as he had half a century before. The rapid evolution of magnetic devices resulted in vast improvements in sound reproduction (vinyl, tape, VCRs etc.) from the mid-twentieth century onward.

How magnetic recording led to the revolution in digital recording and computer memory is another story, but the link between them is evident, and it is likely we would not have had one without the other.

It is quite possible that Smith anticipated this development as well, and more that we have yet to see.

© CHABA on behalf of Carolyn Gomez & Tiffany Saquicaray 2016

Our OBIE Awardees: from top, L to R: Maribel Juarez (2014 STEM); Saray Salazar, Edwin Lesama, and Maria de la Cruz Perez  (2015 STEM); Carolyn Gomez and Tiffany Saquicaray (2016 ART). Carolyn and Tiffany at right (photo by Liz O’Brien).