Plánice - monument to František Křižík

Czech Edison. This is how the Czech inventor and entrepreneur František Křižík is called. He was born on July 8, 1847 in Plánice after many years of marriage between Václav and Marie. The mother was 43 years old at the time. In the same year, T.A. was born. Edison and P.N. Jabločkov. "My childhood was content and happy," wrote F. Křižík. "Father was a poor, lame shoemaker, and mother was a servant." After years spent in school desks in Plánice and Klatovy, the parents decided to let the gifted boy study in Prague. "My mother and I set off from Klatov on foot, the journey took us three days. When we turned from Malé Rynečka in Prague, we met an acquaintance who had a bakery here. She offered to accept me as an apprentice. I broke away from my mother and ran away to Old Town Square. My mother is behind me. The baker has disappeared somewhere so far. That's why I didn't become a baker."

At the age of twelve, little František Křižík enrolled in the Malostran real school. He did not have an easy time studying. "In Sládkovice's kitchen, where I spent the night teaching their daughters Růžena, Božena and Gabriela, there was a maid's bed, where I also kept my straw basket during the day. In the evening I threw it under the table in the workshop and made a bed for myself. So that they would let me in graduation, the catechist gave me a black dress. But I didn't go there anyway. Not that I was afraid, but I didn't have a taxi. That's why they only accepted me as an extraordinary listener."

Křižík's journey to electrical engineering began with a chance meeting with the watchmaker Holub, who was leaving the Kaufmann company and had to find a replacement for him. The future fate of Křižík was thus decided by the railway, and his first invention was a signal against train collisions.

In 1878, at the World Exhibition in Paris, Křižík became acquainted with the Apple arc lamp, known as the Apple candle. The disadvantage of the lamp was its fluctuating brightness. After his return to Pilsen, Křižík started working on improving the "candle". In 1880, an improved arc lamp, called Plzeňka, was born, and Křižík received a gold medal for it at the international electrical exhibition in Paris in 1881, as did T.A. Edison for his light bulb. The home premiere of his arc took place on August 18, 1881, on the Emperor's birthday, in the Pilsen Theater.

Křižík also wanted to compete with Ford. He only built three cars, but they were powered by electricity so as not to pollute the air for people. The whole of Prague witnessed that he was the first to ride Nerudovka all the way to Hradčany with this engine. He was also famous for the first electric tram that ran on the track from the Letenské castle to the edge of Stromovka. Thanks to this, he won contracts for the construction of tram lines not only in Prague's Libni, but also in Pilsen, Dubrovnik and parts of Vienna.

František Křižík tried to spread electricity to the countryside. In order for people to believe him, he drove to the farmers with an electric thresher. But he was perhaps most ahead of his time with electric locomotives.

František Křižík celebrated his last unblemished victory in 1891 at the Jubilee Exhibition on the 100th anniversary of the first industrial exhibition in Bohemia. Křižík presented his light fountain here, which became a legend. The fountain at the Prague Exhibition Center is named after its creator and visitors can still admire it today.

František Křižík, whose creative invention was based on the concept of using direct current, was overtaken by scientific and technical progress at the turn of the century. Jan Neruda said about him: "He had two defects. He was not a businessman and he was too modest. In a word, he was a Czech."

It is not surprising that František Křižík collected many honors during his rich life, among others he was awarded the Order of František Josef in 1883 and the Order of the Iron Crown in 1891. It became the imperial council and in 1905 the monarch appointed František Křižík a life member of the House of Lords. He and his wife had seven children, and his descendants are still outstanding in a number of technical and artistic fields not only here, but also abroad.

Before the occupation of Czechoslovakia on Christmas Day in 1937, František Křižík together with Karel Čapek sat in front of the microphone of the Czechoslovak Radio and delivered a warning message to scientists all over the world: "Today I want to deliver to you, the people of goodwill, a message of true faith and peace. Professor Einstein, we are so far apart, yet so close. I believe that science can bring all people and nations together. I believe in a happy future for the world. Ultimately, humanity must understand that it owes itself respect and love."

František Křižík dies in 1941. He rests in Vyšehrad, not far from Božena Němcová, Bedřich Smetana and Mikoláš Alš. Just before he died, he said to those who defended the darkness: "Courage. Courage to live. Nothing more."

Source: Leaflet of the town of Plánice on the 170th anniversary of the birth of František Křižík, published by Koráb z.s. 2017