Perhaps you've seen that Mazda CX-5 commercial that compares the capable crossover to Thomas Edison. As far as advertisements go, it's not the most groundbreaking concept. The point is that, like good ol' Edison, the CX-5 is a trailblazer—at least where safety and efficiency are concerned.
Note: We're not here to argue for or against Edison himself—calm down, Nikola Tesla fanboys. Geez. We're talking about a car advertisement, not trying to correct historical injustices; Edison just so happens to be a popular stand-in for stubborn, relentless inventiveness.
Still, something nagged. We knew Mazda related to Edison somehow, and it sure as hell didn't have to do with the CX-5. Then it clicked—the proverbial light bulb flickered to life, we guess. Mazda. Light bulbs. Thomas Edison.
It was all connected. Maybe.
Mazda, bringer of light
The turn of the 20th century saw the popularization and democratization of innumerable technological marvels. There was the automobile, of course, but also that universal symbol of progress and, well, enlightenment: The incandescent light bulb.
One of the major incandescent light bulb brands was Mazda, a product of General Electric introduced in 1909. Mazda-brand bulbs were hawked far and wide, and their most memorable advertisements made use of the neo-classical paintings of Maxfield Parrish.
GE stopped using the Mazda name around 1945. By that time, though, the other Mazda — actually still called Toyo Kogyo Co.—was already building the Mazda-Go utility three-wheeled truck. Note that, while all vehicles produced by Toyo Kogyo were badged as Mazdas, the company itself didn't change its name to Mazda Motor Corporation until 1984.
The Zoroastrian Connection
So far as we can tell, there's no direct corporate link between the automaker Mazda and a defunct General Electric light bulb brand. You have to get a little more abstract—and jump back in time by about 2,500 years—to see how it all fits together.