Most of Thomas Edison’s ideas were bad.
At least they weren’t good enough to make it out of the laboratory. Or from the patent office to the product line. Thousands of ideas, never to see the light of day.
An associate of Edison’s, Walter S. Mallory, recalled asking the inventor about this, according to a 1910 biography “Edison: His Life and Inventions.” Mallory recalled that Edison had been working for months on a nickel-iron battery. Mallory visited Edison in his shop and learned his friend had tried more than 9,000 experiments for the battery and none had been successful.
“In view of this immense amount of thought and labor, my sympathy got the better of my judgment, and I said: ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’”
Mallory sympathized with Edison. He felt sorry for him that so many ideas had not yet produce one result. Edison saw it differently.
“Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.'”