Sunday, August 19, 2012

Have you heard of the Polish Edison?

While visiting Tarnow this summer, I saw an exhibit about Jan Szczepanik, often called the Polish Edison.

 I must admit I'd not heard of him before.

Why should we care? Well, have you watched television today? Have you seem a film in the past few days? Have you enjoyed pictures of your family or recent vacation? All of these things are possible because of Szczepanik. In his life time Szczepanik acquired several hundred patents for his inventions, primarily in the areas of color photography, television transmission, and color films for motion pictures.

However, he also invented the first ballistic vest and was honored for this by Alfonso XII of Spain. One story says Alfonso's life was saved by the wearing of this vest.

The exhibit in Tarnow centered on the development of color photography. According to this story, Szczepanik looked at the beautiful buildings in Tarnow and wondered how those colors could be reproduced in a photograph.

 Szczepanik received a patent for the color photography process in Poland, Great Britain, and the United States. In the United States Kodak bought the rights to the process.

Szczepanik, shown above with his family, was taken from us too early by liver cancer. He died in 1926, but at least with in what was then free Poland, having been born into the Austrian-Hungarian controlled area of Poland.

It's amazing what one can learn taking a walk around town. I really enjoy how Poland museums put displays up in public spaces such as the market areas, so one can learn outdoors!

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