Edison and the Electric Light (A)
2002 | Case No. M301A
This case study explores how Thomas Edison developed a strategy for widespread acceptance of electric lighting and electricity more broadly. Indeed, gaining acceptance of electric lighting was not an easy feat. Major U.S. cities, including New York City, had already relied on gas lighting for over 50 years and gas companies were extremely profitable and entrenched into the economic and political landscape. While designing his electric lighting system, Edison knew that he would face resistance from consumers, gas companies, politicians, and various other gas-related interests. Like many entrepreneurs, before and after, Edison faced the challenge of introducing a substantial change into the marketplace. To gain widespread acceptance he knew he needed to make crucial decisions on product design, electricity distribution, and billing/metering.
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