Thomas Alva Edison was one of the most prolific inventors, with 1093 awarded patents and another 500 abandoned applications. He accepted failure as way to attain success. At the age of 32 he invented the telephone and later invented the phonograph, the telephone switcher, motion pictures, and power stations. He was called the "The Wizard of Menlo Park" and interestingly enough he was technically deaf and had 199 patents for Phonographs and Sound Recordings, and 186 patents for Telegraphy and Telephony.
Born to a large family of thirteen children, he was number seven.
He had hearing problems as a child and in his teens he lost most of his hearing making him technically deaf. He did however create a loud speaking telephone as one of his inventions.
One of his first jobs was selling newspapers and candy to passengers on the railway. One day as he was climbing onto a freight train with his arms full of papers, the conductor pulled him up by his ears, and Edison felt something snap inside of his head which lead to a steady increase in his hearing until be became deaf.
Edison received part of his education on the train while reading books from the public library. At one time he saved a toddler who was the son of telegraph operator from the path of a rolling freight car.
In 1907 on his sixteenth birthday he vowed to work as a scientist in his laboratory. His vision of being a scientist was a labor of love in the pursuit of creating a working artifact rather than just an idea. The process involved invention, research, development, and commercialization. He did have helpers at his laboratory. Several of them included Charles Batchelor, Edison's chief mechanical assistant from England; Ludwig Boehm, a German glassblower; John Kruesi, a Swiss clockmaker; and Francis Upton, a mathematician.
Edison was a vegetarian just like Leonardo da Vinci
, Bruce Lee
, Isaac Newton
, Steve Jobs
, Albert Einstein
, and Benjamin Franklin
Edison’s first patent invention
was for an electric vote recorder in 1869 at the age of 21. Of the 1093 United States Patents he was awarded; 147 were for Batteries, 49 for Cement, 424 for Light and Power, 53 for Mining and Ore Milling, 9 for Motion Pictures, 199 for Phonographs and Sound Recordings, 186 for Telegraphy and Telephony and 50 were miscellaneous. He also has 1,239 non-U.S. patents awarded in 34 countries other than the United States.
The electric lamp was initially invented by Humphrey Davy with the arc lamp, in 1801, then the fluorescent lamp in 1868 by A.E. Becquerel, and then the incandescent lamp, first demonstrated by Joseph Swann in 1860 later refining the design and patenting it one year prior to Edison in 1878. However, Edison’s genius was in packing and integrating the entire design for commercialization. Edison may have perfected the light bulb at age 32, but Alexander Graham Bell
accomplished the same feat with the telephone at age 29 in 1876.
Edison introduced the word "Hello" to let someone know you had picked up the phone. Henry Ford
worked at Edison’s company, the Edison Illuminating Company, working his way up to chief engineer. Nikola Tesla
also worked with Edison, and later competed with him on large engineering and power projects.
Later in life Henry Ford
would become great friends with Edison.
From 1927-1931 his laboratory tested over 17,000 plants for rubber content as a source of rubber.
There is a crater on the moon named after Edison.
In 1941, ten years after Edison's death, Edison made contact at a séance. At another séance where he made contact in attendance was J. Gilbert Wright, the inventor of putty. Interestingly, Harry Houdini
spent his later life debunking séances, but every year on the anniversary of his death a séance was held.
Edison’s son, Charlie Edison was once the Governor of New Jersey and for the last 18 years of his life lived in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where he became friends with Herbert Hoover, who also lived there. Yet, many years prior, Nikola Tesla
, an innovator comparable to Edison achievements also lived in the same hotel.
October 18, 1931: October 18, 1931: His last words were: "It is very beautiful over there." He died in bed from an illness in his Glenmont estate in West Orange, New Jersey. Shortly thereafter President Hoover issued a request to the American people for moment of darkness for a minute in tribute to the memory of Edison on the day of his funeral.
At the Henry Ford
Museum in Michigan, Thomas Edison’s last breath is capture in a test tube and is on display.