Did Thomas Edison build a spirit telephone?

For years there have been rumours and speculation over Thomas Edison and his involvement with the paranormal. Was he really working on a spirit phone to the other side or was all a joke?
Sarah Chumacero
17th November 2017.
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Famous Paranormal Cases, General.
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There have been rumours and whispers for many years about Thomas Edison and his interest in the paranormal. So much so that it was well documented that he was working on some sort of ‘ghost machine’ shortly before he died. The problem is, we don’t know what it is exactly he was working on and if he was serious or if it was a joke he was playing on reporters.

Who was Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison was born on the 11th of February 1847 and passed away in October 18 1931. He is affectionately known as America’s greatest inventor. Some of his inventions include a motion picture camera, phonograph and is most well-known for inventing the long lasting electric light bulb. He had his hands in electrics, sound recording, video recording and power utilities. With extensive knowledge in all of these areas, it is no wonder that a lot of his items are adapted for use within the paranormal field today. Because of his involvement with recording devices, some people even mistakenly report that Edison invented EVP (which is not the case - he did not invent EVP). A quote from Edison even appears at the beginning of the movie 'White Noise' which is about EVP and ITC communication. Great movie as well!

What was he trying to build?

In an era where spiritualism was at its most popular, Edison didn’t necessarily believe in the afterlife, but would if he had scientific proof. So that is apparently what he set out to do. In 1920, an interview with the Scientific American publication with Edison was published. He claimed to be building some sort of ghost machine that could open the lines of communication between the real world and the spirit world. It was thought that this machine could record the voices of the dead. It was widely speculated that he had some sort of spirit phone – a telephone to the dead. Others claim that it was a large microphone that could detect spirit voices - much like EVP. No one really knows, it really is just guess work.

In the article he was quoted as saying “If our personality survives, then it is strictly logical and scientific to assume that it retains memory, intellect, and other faculties and knowledge that we acquire on earth...

“...I am inclined to believe that our personality hereafter will be able to affect matter. If this reasoning be correct, then, if we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected, moved, or manipulated...by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something.”

Another article published below in Literary Digest in 1921 suggests he was working on equipment that would detect the presence of ghosts, similar to the technology that we use today. One such device was a beam of light coming from a lamp which could detect small particles in the air. His theory was that if ghosts exist, they would consist of some of particle and this machine in theory should be able to detect this.

Was it a joke?

Quite a lot of Edison’s colleagues believed that Edison was playing a joke on reporters. As this device nor any plans have been discovered, it is quite likely he was playing a prank. There is however evidence that Edison was intrigued by the spirit world, with a chapter in his personal diary found years later speculating on if perhaps it was possible to communicate with the other side.

Is he trying to help us from the other side?

Quite a lot of people have claimed to have made contact with Edison himself during EVP and different ghost box sessions claiming that he is trying to help with communication. Even back in 1941, a séance was held where Edison’s spirit reportedly told the sitters that 3 of his assistants had the plans to his spirit phone. They reportedly built the device but it did not work. Most recently in July of this year, he apparently contacted no other than Steve Huff. He pretty much talks to everyone on the other side apparently so this claim doesn’t have a huge amount of weight behind it, however he claims that Edison has helped him most recently with information to make communication easier through Huff’s secretive new Gold Wonder Box.

Quite a lot of people are fascinated by Edison’s views on the afterlife and even see him as a general influence in their quest to find answers in the paranormal. We will never know if he really did build his ghost in the machine, but we can certainly learn from his words and teachings and there is no doubt that he did quite a lot in bringing us into the modern world.

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