Back to Home
CHAPTER16

Johnson & Johnson and the Electric Light

Profile picture for user mgurowi
By MargaretGurowitz
Feb 28, 2007

Thomas Alva Edison invented and perfected many of the things that shaped modern life, such as the phonograph, an improved stock ticker, carbon microphone and commercially practical electric lighting.  But what was his connection to the early days of Johnson & Johnson?

opera-house-pharmsm.jpg

 Fred Kilmer's Opera House Pharmacy

Edison’s connection to the Company was through a personal relationship.  Thomas Edison was friendly with Frederick Barnett Kilmer, the Company’s scientific director.

 fredkilmera.jpg

Fred Kilmer

Before joining Johnson & Johnson, Kilmer ran the Opera House Pharmacy in downtown New Brunswick.  Along with company founder Robert Wood Johnson, Edison was a frequent visitor to Kilmer’s pharmacy.  As a fellow scientist, Edison was interested in what Fred Kilmer had to say about the science behind pharmacy, and would join Kilmer behind the counter to watch him work.  On the occasions when Mrs. Edison managed to persuade her husband to attend the opera in New Brunswick, they would make a quick stop at Dr. Kilmer’s pharmacy to make sure the inventor was presentable before heading to the event.  Aside from the more social aspects of their friendship, Thomas Edison also bought supplies from the Opera House Pharmacy that he would use in his Menlo Park laboratory.  In fact, Fred Kilmer sold Edison some of the carbon, charcoal and other materials he used in developing the first commercially practical incandescent light, thus forming a connection, albeit a very small one, between the electric light and Johnson & Johnson. 

Share this article

Read1 comment
Full name will be displayed as entered.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
By submitting your comments, you agree that your comments may be made available to the public. All comments will be reviewed before posting, and if approved, will be shared publicly on the site. Please do not include any information and/or comments that you would like to remain private. Since this blog is about history, topics that don’t directly relate to the history of Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies won’t be posted.. Issues not related to the history of J&J, including any product complaints, will be forwarded to the appropriate Johnson & Johnson team for follow-up as appropriate. This site will not publish any comments that have inappropriate language... so be nice! We will use the information you submit in accordance with our  Privacy Policy.
William Berg
JUNE 02, 2010 03:01 PM

Margaret -
Some years ago I had acquired a one pound box of the Johnson & Johnson product Oakum. The product is still in the original cardboard container.
Can you find out what this product was used for, and approximately which years it was sold?

Thanks.
William Berg