Thomas Alva Edison

by Josh K from Montvale, NJ

"Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

Thomas Alva Edison was not only one of the more important scientists and inventors of the past two centuries, but his memory will live on because of the huge number of his inventions and their usefulness even today. Most likely, the next electronic device you pick up is one he invented or improved...or at least tried to.

Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio, and raised in Port Huron, Michigan. At an early age, he showed signs of having a serious hearing problem. This may have been the reason for Edison's poor performance at school. Edison did not do well there and was often teased by the other kids. Three months after starting school, Edison ran away. His mother was forced to teach him at home.

Edison wound up teaching himself. He enjoyed reading chemistry books and was also a keen observer of anything complex, electronic, or telegraphic. He never stopped studying and experimenting.

In 1871, Edison moved to Newark, New Jersey, and set up his first laboratory. Later that year, he married Mary Stilwell, with whom he would later have three children. In 1876, when his lab in Newark became too small, Edison decided to build a huge factory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. This would become the first private research laboratory in the U.S.

Edison worked on many projects, including sound recording devices. In 1877, he successfully recorded and played back a message by phonography. The phonography machine, or phonograph, was like a record player without the disc. Instead, it used a cylinder with tin foil to record and play sounds.

In 1879, Edison developed the first successful incandescent lamp, otherwise known as the electric light bulb. This invention not only made Edison rich, but it also made him famous. Edison worked until he was very old, although he was tormented by many diseases. He died on October 18, 1931.

Page created on 7/9/2004 1:22:39 PM

Last edited 7/9/2004 1:22:39 PM

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Related Links

The Undiscovered World of Thomas Edison - An interesting article from The Atlantic Monthly

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