Thomas Alva Edison

by Theresa from Herrin, Ill.

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.” - Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison

What do you think makes a hero? Well, I think a hero is made up of courage, smarts, and the will of wanting to help. A hero should stand up for what he/she believes in. A hero should speak his/her mind without caring about the consequences. Heroes should know about everything they engage in. Also, a hero should want to and be willing to help people. My hero is Thomas Edison. Edison is my hero because he invented many things that helped many people, and he helped invent a new form of entertainment.

Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. Edison was always questioning things. When he was seven, his teacher finally got fed up with it. His teacher noted that Tom’s forehead was unusually big and his head larger than normal. The teacher also made it no secret that he believed a hyperactive child’s brain was “addled” or scrambled. If Tom lived in our time, he probably would be prescribed Ritalin for ADHD. By age 12, he had completed books that college students read.

Thomas started working at an early age. By age 12, he was selling newspapers and snacks on the railroad, and he started a business selling fruits and vegetables. Tom took advantage of his access to the news releases that were teletyped into the station. He used them to start his own newspaper, which quickly got over 300 customers. At the peak of his newspaper sales, he was getting more than $10 a day. He used this money to outfit the chemical lab he set up in his basement. Tom would keep chemicals in his locker on the train. One day the train hit a bumpy section of track, causing a stick of phosphorous to ignite and catch a baggage car on fire.

When Tom was 15, he was a telegraph operator. He invented an “automatic repeater” with which telegraph signals were recorded. This made it where almost anyone could translate them, but he never patented the idea. Tom also made an electric vote recording machine, which was his first “legitimate” invention, but no one wanted it.

Thomas Edison moonlighting
Thomas Edison moonlighting

Thomas was a great inventor, but even he got in debt. One day, Tom borrowed $35 from his friend, Bredding, to go to New York. When he got there, he was “on the verge of starving to death.” After begging some tea from a street vendor, he saw an important stock-ticker had broken down in a local brokerage firm. Tom went over to look at it and after a few seconds, Tom reached down and moved a spring back were it belonged. It worked perfectly. After that, the manger hired Tom to do all repairs for $300 a month.

Soon after he got the job, he started working on the telegraph, the quadruplex transmitter, and the stock-ticker. After awhile, a corporation paid him $40,000 for all of his rights to the stock-ticker. In 1874, he opened his first complete testing and development lab in Newark, New Jersey, with the money he received from an electrical engineering firm sale. Shortly after, Tom moved his lab to Menlo Park, N.J.

In 1876, he invented the first electric light bulb. In 1883 and 1884, he introduced the first system that generated and distributed light, power, and heat. Tom developed the first vitascope in 1890, and storage battery in 1903.

In the 1920s, Tom’s health began to fail. In 1931 on October 18, Thomas Edison died at 9:00 p.m. in New Jersey at age 84. The day Tom was laid to rest at his Glenmont, N.J. estate, people all over the world dimmed or briefly turned off their power.

All in all, I think Thomas Edison is a hero. I think a hero should stand up for his/her beliefs. A hero should speak his/her mind. Heroes should also have courage. A hero should know all about his/her cause. Most of all, a hero should be willing to help. Thomas is a hero to me. He once saved a boy from getting hit by a train, which took courage. Also, he invented many helpful things that made life easier and more enjoyable for everyday life, which helps people. Tom would also think through his projects completely and keep making them better until they were almost perfect, which is knowing all about them. These reasons are why Thomas Alva Edison is my hero.

Page created on 6/14/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 6/14/2006 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

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