poland

Jan Szczepanik (1872–1926) – a Self-taught Technician Dubbed the Polish Edison

In publications describing his life and work, Jan Szczepanik was dubbed “the Polish Edison,” “the Austrian Edison,” “the Leonardo da Vinci from Galicia,” and “the Genius from Galicia.” His groundbreaking inventions were ahead of their time, which frequently made them difficult to implement for technological and financial reasons.

Jan Szczepanik After graduating from primary and secondary school, Jan Szczepanik attended a teachers college in Krakow. He graduated, passed his final exams, and started a rather dull teaching work at Galician schools. Carried away by his passion for designing, he started neglecting his duties, though. A few years later he quit his burdensome teaching job and moved to Krakow. He took up work at a photo shop. This marked the beginning of his inventing career, which he pursued with great passion. His ideas in photography and film technology brought him world fame. He also earned prominence for introducing new solutions to the weaving and textile industries.

Jan Szczepanik’s most famous inventions include:

  • several types of devices for sending motion pictures along with sound across distances, which are believed to be precursors of today’s cinematography and television;
  • colour photography with a special plate and light-sensitive colour paper;
  • film camera;
  • the photometer, a device for measuring luminous intensity;
  • a device for copying sculptures using a photographic method;
  • his own design of a bulletproof vest;
  • an automatic controller of chimney draught in boiler furnaces.

Bulletproof vest by Jan Szczepanik - tests Apart from his flagship inventions, he took out several dozen patents in Germany, Great Britain, Austria and the United States. Jan Szczepanik’s photographic and film inventions later became inspiration for such companies as Kodak and Agfa. Many other film businesses also took advantage of his ingenuity.

Jan Szczepanik also worked on radio broadcasting and sound film, but he did not complete his projects. After his death, his sons continued his pioneering work.

Jan Szczepanik died on 18 April 1926 in Tarnow.

 

Interesting facts:

Mark Twain dedicated two articles to Jan Szczepanik and his inventions. He calls Szczepanik “the Austrian Edison.” Twain and Szczepanik met in Vienna.

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Jan Szczepanik’s groundbreaking inventions were ahead of their time, which frequently made them difficult to implement for technological and financial reasons. Some of them entered into popular use many years after his death.

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In publications describing his life and work, Jan Szczepanik was dubbed “the Polish Edison,” “the Austrian Edison,” “the Leonardo da Vinci from Galicia,” and “the Genius from Galicia.”

 

/ National Technology Museum

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25.03.2019