Volume 13, No. 1
November 2000

Mercurial Matters

Annual Meetings

Letters to the Editor

Urban Legends & the Challenges of Standardization

Paul Israel Wins Dexter Prize

Email & Website Report

An Artificial Line, or Technology as Spectrology

A Daemon in Her Shape

Lincoln Labs Turns 50

Vogue Picture Records

Media Ecology Book Awards

Contact Us

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Paul Israel Wins Dexter Prize !!

Congratulations to Paul Israel for winning the prestigious Dexter Prize of the Society for the History of Technology. Awarded annually for the best book in the history of technology published in the previous three years, the Dexter Prize for the year 2000 recognized the importance and merits of Edison: A Life of Invention (New York: John Wiley, 1998).

Not everyone could have successfully taken on the challenge of writing a scholastically solid biography of Thomas Edison, one of America’s most illustrious and renowned heroes of technology history. As an editor of the Edison Papers, Paul Israel is one of the few people who could have even attempted this project, given the mountains of laboratory notebooks, patent and business records, and letters available for research. As Jeffrey Meikle made clear in his review of Edison in the American Historical Review, Israel’s work is “exhaustively complete,” and this is “the definitive biography of Edison as an inventor” (v. 105 [October 2000]: 1321-2).

The Dexter Prize citation explained that by sticking close to the documentary evidence, Israel remained “immune both to mythology and to iconoclasm” in his “eminently readable account of Edison’s families, education, and career from newsboy to crack telegrapher to technological system builder.” The citation concludes that Israel has “reinvigorated the writing of biography, showing how to combine detailed archival research with cultural history.” That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. We are proud to claim Paul as a longtime member and supporter of the Mercurians.