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Alfred Taylor Markwood

From Kook Science

Alfred Taylor Markwood
Alfred Taylor Markwood - photo portrait (c. 1910).jpg
Born 13 April 1878(1878-04-13)
Jonesboro, Washington Co., Tennessee
Died 11 January 1941 (62)
Eloise, Wayne Co., Michigan
Spouse(s) Ida Ethel Reed (m. 1901)

Alfred Taylor Markwood (April 13, 1878 - January 11, 1941) was an American railroad conductor and inventor who, while resident in Johnson City, Washington Co., Tennessee, was reported in late 1909 and early 1910 to have claimed success in designing a perpetual motion machine. After receiving early support from Tennessee businessmen and politicians, including Alfred "Alf" Taylor, and establishing the Markwood Power Development Company, the entire enterprise went bust before 1910 was ended, as Markwood's machine proved non-functional and Markwood himself gave up the pursuit, reputedly going into the grocery business and later back to the railway.

Press Coverage

  • "MAY SOLVE OLD PROBLEM - Tennessee Man Claims To Have Perpetual Motion machine. ARMED MEN GUARD THE MODEL - Business And Professional Men Are Said To Be Interested — Inventor a Railway Conductor.", Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD): 5, 19 Dec. 1909, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/372958473 
  • "PERPETUAL MOTION IS NOW SOLVED SAY THOSE WHO PIN FAITH TO INVENTION OF MARKWOOD - Hon. 'Alf' Taylor Among Those Who Believe Young Man Has Conquered — Risks Money.", The Comet (Johnson City, TN): 1, 3, 13 Jan. 1910, https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89058128/1910-01-13/ed-1/seq-1/ 

    Bristol, Jan. 8. — As if in defiance of all known principles of science and all known law of mechanics, the problem of perpetual motion has been solved.

    While no student of philosophy who has any respect for orthodoxy will be disposed to believe this statement, yet reputable men, and men of intelligence, who have had equal respect for the known laws of science, have at last been persuaded to confess that what they believed to be absolutely impossible has been accomplished. And to bear them out in this confession, they are just as positive that the problem has been solved without the violation of a single principle of science, but, on the contrary, with the support of well established laws of philosophy and mechanics.

    The fame of this remarkable invention belongs to a young East Tennessean — Alfred Taylor Markwood. At the age of 19, Markwood, who is now 31 years of age, conceived, the idea that perpetual motion was a problem which would some day find a practical solution, and to this end he began a study of the subject.

    Undaunted by the many failures in the attempt, by the numerous shattered dreams, evidences of which have been piled up in the United States patent office from year to year, young Markwood kept at his task. In a most singular and striking way his labors have been rewarded; and while the scientific world has yet to pass judgment upon the effort, Markwood and his confidential friends and supporters are absolutely confident that there can be no question about the success of the invention.

    Toiling away cautiously and securely behind locked doors in an old woodframe building at Johnson City, whose windows have been smeared with white paint, Markwood, and his confidential machinists, are perfecting the model of this wonderful machine which is to go to the United States patent office in the next few weeks, and upon it a patent is to be applied for in twenty-seven foreign countries.

    The machine and its form of construction are still a secret, and until the matter of patents has been satisfactorily provided for, the secret of the young inventor will not be given to the public, although there are a few men of undoubted reputation who unhesitatingly vouch for the triumphant success of the invention, and who frankly declare that it is destined to revolutionize the question of power production.

    Markwood himself, when sought for information with reference to his invention was reticent, and declared that he could not discuss the subject from any viewpoint until the matter of patents had been definitely determined. However, as an evidence of his faith in the contrivance, he has given up his position as a conductor on the Southern railroad, a position which he has held for eight years, and is trusting to the success of his invention, his future and that of his family.

    In view of the original in operation has sufficed to bring into the coffers of the Markwood Power Development Company all the money necessary for perfecting the experiments and for the completion of such models as may be necessary in the applications for patents, while among men who have been only indirectly informed as to the workings of the machine, there is a wild scramble to get possession of stock in the enterprise. But aside from this stock as was originally issued for favors and for ready money, not a dollar of the stock is for sale, nor will any of it be offered until the machine has been patented in this and other countries.

    Markwood Was Once a Poor Country Boy.

    Markwood, who was reared as a country boy, without means and with only a limited education, is apparently not the least affected by his success, and seems wholly oblivious to the question of such fame as now appears destined to come to him when the plan of the machine is finally laid before the scientific world. Already he has been sought by newspapers, magazines and scientific journals for his picture and for a story of his invention, but to all of them he is said to have politely declined any offer of assistance in bringing himself into prominence. And it was only through a cautiously laid plan that a picture of the young inventor was procured by this correspondent, success in getting the picture having been attained only after repeated efforts.

    Not from the inventor, but of others, has this correspondent been successful in gaining any information whatever with reference to the principles of the machine, and even then his posted informants were very cautious to withhold any information in the nature of a description of the invention, their reason being the desire of the stockholders to suppress any and all features of information that might in any way operate against them in securing patents in this or foreign countries. But those in a position to speak with authority are positive that there can be no question as to the absolute success of the machine, not only to operate itself continuously so long as its parts remain in perfect condition, but to generate additional power, which may be used in operating other machinery and driving spindles for any purpose for which power is ordinarily applied.

    The, mind naturally rebels against the thought of an invention that might by any special contrivance overcome that old law of Newton: "Every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force directly proportionate to the mass of the attracting particle and inversely to the square of the distance between them."

    For centuries no scientist has thought of doubting the accuracy of this law, and when one comes to recall that by mathematical calculation, based upon such laws, the planet Vulcan was discovered before the telescope revealed it to the eye, he naturally comes to the point of doubting how Markwood’s invention may overcome and how it may carry upward a weight not only equal to but surpassing the weight going down in obedience to the law of gravity.

    Reputable Men Say Inventor Has Succeeded

    And yet in spite of this and in spite of the thousands of futile attempts to overcome this law. Markwood does not lack for reputable men who declare that seeing is believing, and who insist that the inventor has succeeded in running around this law, so to speak, by giving the world a machine which operates itself, with power to spare for other purposes.

    And singularly, too, as it may seem, and as little as men generally may believe in dreams, it is related of Markwood that his final success came through a dream, which revealed to his mind a practical method of solving the problem, and one which has never before, so far as is known, entered into an attempt to attain success. It was not without a full realization of the failure of all attempts to solve the problem heretofore, and of the chagrin which came to inventors after coming to a realization of their failure, that Markwood proceeded with his attempt. And now that he is firmly convinced of the success of his effort, he is content to take his time in making the final model, trusting the future for such fame and wealth as will come to him, his only immediate ambition being to perfect a model to go before the patent authorities as nearly without flaw or blemish as possible.

    After being taken into the confidence of the inventor and being permitted to see the model in actual operation and having its every part explained to him in detail, the Hon. Alfred A. Taylor, a brother of Senator Bob Taylor, of Tennessee, and who was at one time pitted against the picturesque senator brother in the race for governor of Tennessee, has come to the conclusion that there can be no mistake about the invention. Mr. Taylor, as an evidence of his faith, unhesitatingly decided to come to the aid of the inventor in a financial way. Being warned by his brother, James Taylor, who is himself a successful inventor, to shun all perpetual motion machines, Alfred invited James to inspect the Markwood model. The result was that James Taylor immediately withdrew his objections and joined his brother in rendering financial aid to Markwood. His words, while they are for the present being withheld from the public, were highly commendatory of the inventor and his machine, leaving no doubt that he, like his brother, Alfred, is convinced that Markwood is about to give the world the most remarkable invention in its history.

    It's Surely a Success, Says Hon. A. A. Taylor

    When sought for information on the subject, Alfred A. Taylor said: "There can be no doubt of the success of the Markwood invention. It is a simple and yet marvelous contrivance. It is a self-propelling machine, and while running of its own power, actually generates a surplus energy. While I am at this time not permitted to undertake a description of the machine, I amy say that it is a solution of the application of gravity and its power to lift itself in another denomination. Aside from the power which it generates for its own operation, it has a surplus which may be applied to the operation of almost any kind of machinery. The model that will go to the United States patent office will show a capacity for developing energy to the extent of from two to four horsepower. Markwood, while he has no disposition to boast, understands fully what he has and knows its power to accomplish what is claimed for it."

    "That a man," continued Mr. Taylor, "can not lift himself over a fence by his bootstraps has been a recognized philosophy since the days of Adams. But Markwood has actually harnessed gravitation, making it subservient to his will, so that he has solved the problem by which it has been enabled to, to lift itself over the fence by its bootstraps, so to speak. I saw the model in operation and know it to be a success beyond dispute. It has not only power to operate itself, but has to be governed and controlled to prevent it from running to destruction. It has the power to operate an electric dynamo and generate electricity sufficient to light the building in which it is situated. It did this absolutely without power from any source except from the power of its own motion."

    Because of the unpopularity of the term "perpetual motion," due to so many unsuccessful attempts to establish that such a good thing might be possible, Markwood and his supporters have persistently shunned the application of that name to the new contrivance, and they only speak of it as a self-power developing proposition.

    While as yet no description of the machine is available for the press, it was slated in the outset of this article that perpetual motion had been solved without the violation of any known law of science. This calls for an explanation, and the answer is one which may clear up to some extent the seeming absurdity of the claim of the inventor and his friends that they have a self-propelling machine which is destined to make good. The secret of the success of this machine, so far as can be learned at the present time, is the power of gravity plus an attained momentum.

    Sketch of Inventor and About Home Life.

    Alfred Taylor Markwood, the inventor, is a son of C. H. Markwood, a mail transfer clerk at Knoxville, Tenn. He was born at Jonesboro, the oldest town in Tennessee, and the capital of the original state of Franklin, in 1878. He was educated in the high school at Jonesboro and spent his early life in that county. Later he was a grocery merchant in Knoxville, and eight years ago became a conductor on the Southern railway, which position he held until his resignation recently. In 1901 he married Miss Ida Reed, of Jonesboro, whom he had known from childhood. To this union have been born a son and a daughter, namely, Frances Reed, 7 years of age, and Alfred Taylor Markwood, jr., now 10 months old.

    Proud of her husband's achievement as an inventor, Mrs. Markwood, now not older than 25 years, manifested both pleasure and confusion when approached for a story of the family history, and when told that her husband seemed destined to attain a unique and unprecedented place in history. Although she understood how averse her husband was to notoriety at the present time, she looked fondly into the eyes of her baby boy, the namesake of his father, who was then seated on her lap, and manifestly embarrassed by the request, consented to take from a modest frame on the wall the only picture of her husband known to be in existence, handing it over to this correspondent upon condition that it might be returned by hand, and without trusting to the United States mails for its safe delivery into her possession. It was with this understanding that the picture was removed from the frame which it adorned, and thus it is that the inventor, a man of small stature and slender build, weighing only about 135 pounds, and having a keen, piercing eye and intellectual forehead, is brought into closer touch with the world, which now awaits with interest the outcome of practical tests of his wonderful invention which, unless honest impression of intelligent men fails, is destined to revolutionize the problem of power production and give to the world of commerce and industry a new impetus and a new energy, at the same time conserving the world's stored energies for future generations, rather than submitting them to a continuation of the present mad raid of a wild and unbridled economic system.

  • "MARKWOOD POWER CO. PREPARING NEW MODEL", Knoxville Sentinel (Knoxville, TN): 11, 26 Jan. 1910, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/586492706/ 
  • "Young Markwood Believes He Has Solved Problem of 'Perpetual Motion'", Knoxville Sentinel (Knoxville, TN): 20, 7 Feb. 1910, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/586494419 
  • "HIS DREAM SHATTERED - PERPETUAL MOTION WIZARD GIVES UP THE CHASE AND OPENS A GROCERY STORE.", Bristol Evening News (Bristol, TN): 2, 22 Nov. 1910, https://www.newspapers.com/image/587076533/