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Thomas Edison Biography

Biography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

Early life

Thomas Alva Edison has been described as America’s greatest inventors. He was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio and he grew up in Port Michigan. He was the youngest of seven children of Samuel and Nancy Edison. His father was an exiled political activist from Canada, while his mother was an accomplished school teacher and a major influence in Thomas’ early life.

An early bout with scarlet fever and ear infections left Thomas Edison with hearing difficulties and nearly deaf. He was a hyperactive child and so he attended school only for a few months and was instead taught by his mother.

The young entrepreneur

As a young child, he sold newspapers, candy and vegetables on the railroads. He even printed and sold his own newspaper, called the Grand Trunk Herald.

In 1866, at the age of 19, Thomas Edison moved to Louiseville, Kentucky, where, as an employee of Western Union, he worked the Associated Press bureau news wire. Edison worked the night shift, while he followed up on his two passions, reading and experimenting.

Wives and children

He married one of his employees, Mary Stilwell, and during their 13 year marriage, they had three children, Marion, Thomas and William, who also became an inventor. In 1884, Mary died at the age of 29 of a suspected brain tumour.

In 1886, Edison married Mina Miller, 19 years his junior. They also had three children, Madeleine, Charles and Theodore. Mina outlived Edison dying on 24th August, 1947.

Inventing years

One of the most prolific inventors of all time, Thomas Edison, created, and invented an impressive amount of objects we use in our everyday life. Apart from being an inventor, Edison also managed to become a successful manufacturer and businessman, marketing his inventions to the public.

His gift to early modern research were two huge laboratory facilities, Menlo Park and West Orange Laboratory, where some of his biggest and famous inventions were designed and discovered, including vacuum tube electronics. These became model of other research facilities.

At the time of his death on October 18, 1931, he had amassed a record 1093 patents covering innovations in telecommunications, electric power, sound recording, motion pictures, mining and cement technology.

Thomas Edison’s most famous inventions

His major contributions to the field of science and technology were the :

  1. Telegraph
  2. phonograph where Edison recorded ‘Mary had a Little Lamb!’
  3. first commercially incandescent electric bulb
  4. alkaline storage batteries and a kinetograph (a camera for motion pictures)
  5. including several research projects for the United States Government including submarines, ships and other equipments
  6. early stages of today’s wireless technology, known as the Edison Effect

5 Famous quotes by Thomas Edison

  1. Be courageous! Whatever setbacks America has encountered, it has always emerged as a stronger and more prosperous nation…Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith and go forward.
  2. I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent.
  3. When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.
  4. To have a great idea, have a lot of them.
  5. What you are will show in what you do.
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