Carmichael: Can Canada’s political class meet AI’s challenge?

What if … Canadians Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans had commercialized the light bulb? 

The entrepreneur responsible for the democratization of electric light, Thomas Edison, became one of the most famous people in the world in the 1920s and his company, Edison General Electric, was an industrial force for most of the 20th century. 

Canada could have used an anchor company like that. Alas, Woodward and Evans are protagonists in a classic Canadian so-close-yet-so-far story.

Like Edison and dozens of other inventors around the world in the later half of the 1800s, they had dreams of turning a transformational technology into practical products that would bring them fame and fortune. They secured a Canadian patent for a light bulb in 1874, and a U.S. patent two years later. But their destiny was to be forgotten. After struggling to convince investors their product had a future, Woodward sold his American patent to Edison in 1879 for $5,000, who then purchased the Canadian rights six years later. 

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