My strange invention for the time period of 1850-1900 involves a fictional invention that gives a great representation of the time period when it comes to the importance of inventions and the glorification of the people who invented them. Not only did it show the importance of inventions, but they also presented the idea that anything that could be imagined could be invented. The ostrich above is only one of the many farfetched fictional inventions thought up by authors of the genre coined as Edisonade.
Edisonade stories began being produced near the end of the 18th century in comic book-like paper bindings knowns as dime novels. Electric Bob was only one of the many “heroes” of the Edisonade genre, and although there were many different stories within the genre they all fit a common theme. This common theme involved a brilliant inventor, such as Electric Bob, that made unique inventions in order to fight and defeat people from countries who opposed the US. Of course there were some common side plots such as saving a damsel in distress from these evil opposing countries. These dime novels were really not far off from the comic books of today. The main difference to be noted was that these “heroes” used inventions rather than super powers to save the day. Although these inventions could not be physically created, and therefore rendered useless to society, they were arguably more innovative (and ridiculous) than many of the actual inventions of the time period. These inventions included divinci-like flying boats, giant robots, Christmas inspired electric reindeer, and a personal favorite of mine is the Magnetic Hurricane: a trackless train invented to travel Central China and run down anyone who tried to stop it.
Edisonade stories were a fairly good representation of late 19th century American culture for a number of reasons. They were a perfect representation of the importance of innovation at the time. The lightbulb, train, and telephone were only a few of the inventions that made life more convenient, and I would argue that these innovations were appreciated at the time. One argument I would make to support this claim can be found in Edisonade through the glorification of inventors. Many of the heroes in these stories were named after inventors such as Jack Wright, as seen in the story above, named after the Wright brothers. Others were portrayed as the sons of these brilliant inventors such as Tom Edison Jr. who was a hero in one of the popular book series. The stories also showed disdain for the countries who opposed America. Nearly all of these stories involved America using its technology to defeat people who were believed to be less advanced technologically. This also showed the patriotism of American’s at the time, and some of this patriotism may have come about from the country’s technological advancements.
On a final note, while many of these stories may be considered to be comical and ridiculous today, they could have potentially been an inspiration to readers; giving the idea that anything that could be imagined could be invented. As well as the idea that being an inventor could lead to glory to you and your country. Is it possible that these fictional adventures could have been part of a movement that has led to exponential technological advancement? It certainly is something to be thought about.