Thomas Edison is often thought of as one of the greatest inventors who ever lived. He is commonly categorized as the man who invented the first practical incandescent light bulb. Equally important are Edisons 1,093 patents, more than any other individual. His inventions revolutionized our world and changed lives even today. Some of his inventions were improvements on other inventions, like the telephone. On the other hand, some of his inventions he deliberately tried to invent, like the light bulb and the movie projector. However, some inventions he stumbled upon, like the phonograph.
Edison invented and improved upon things that transformed our world. Some things he invented by himself. Some things he invented with other people. More importantly, just about all his inventions are things we still use in some form today. Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio on February 11, 1847. He was the seventh child of Samuel and Nancy Edison. When Thomas was 7, his family was forced to move to Port Huron, Michigan because of financial problems. As might be expected, Edison there attended school. His teacher, the Reverend G. B. Engle considered Thomas to be a dull student.
Thomas especially did not like math. And he asked too many questions. After three months of school, the teacher called Thomas, “addled,” which means confused or mixed up. The teacher told his mother that Thomas couldn’t learn. Nancy consequently took Thomas out of school and decided to home-school him. It appears he briefly attended two more schools. However, his school attendance was not very good. So nearly all his childhood learning took place at home(Swezy). Thomas Edison set up his first lab in his basement to perform experiments after learning physics.
When Edison was 12 years old, he took a job as a trainboy on the Grand Trunk Railway. The train traveled from Port Huron, to Detroit, and back to Port Huron in one day. Thomas sold newspapers and candy to passengers(www. hfmgv. org/ histories/ edison/ tae. html). He also printed a weekly newspaper, the Weekly Herald. He spent all he earned on books and equipment for his chemical laboratory. When trying to hop aboard a moving train, a trainman helped him aboard by pulling his ears. This in turn, led to the inventors deafness. His deafness could have been cured by an operation.
But Thomas refused the operation. He said being deaf helped him concentrate(www. lucidcafe. com/ library/ 196feb/ edison. html). At the age of 16, Edison roamed the Midwest as a telegraph operator. He became a telegraph assistant at Stratford Junction, Canada. His job was to report to Toronto every hour by telegraph signal. Edison thought this was a waste of time. He invented something that sent a signal even if he was asleep. This was his first invention – the transmitter and receiver for the automatic telegraph. From this point on Thomas Edison determined that he wanted to become an inventor.
In Boston, at the age of 21 Edison patented his unsuccessful vote counter. The vote counter was used to speed up the way of counting votes. He determined that he would no longer invent things unless there was a need for them. In 1869 he refined the vote counter and sold it, with the $40,000 he was paid he started a laboratory and a factory in Newark, N. J. (Scientists). On Christmas day, 1871, Thomas Edison married his first wife Mary G. Stillwell. Thomas was 24 and Mary was 16. They had three children, Marion, Thomas Jr, and William. Mary died due to typhoid fever, however, in 1884.
Thomas again married, to Mina Miller in 1886. They also had three children, Madeline, Charles, and Theodore(Pathways). In 1873 Edison, invented the “duplex” telegraph machine that sent two messages at one time over the same wire. This was an improvement to the telegraph already invented. He later combined two “duplex” telegraph machines to make a “quadruplex” machine, one that sent four simultaneous messages over one wire. In 1876, Edison moved his laboratory to Menlo Park. Thomas was therefore given the name “The wizard of Menlo Park.
Here he created his favorite invention, one considered to be his most original, the “Phonograph”. This machine recorded sounds and then replayed them. The first sounds recorded by the phonograph was the song “Mary had a little lamb. ” The light bulb was not invented by Thomas Edison. Edison did, however, develop solutions to a number of the problems or inconveniences associated with the “incandescent bulb. ” Thomas invented a parallel system in the wiring so that the circuit wouldnt become broken if one lamp was turned off or broken. He experimented with a number of different filaments to find one that burn the longest.
Carbonized cotton thread was eventually used. Edison found that the filament burned longer when not surrounded by oxygen. By encasing it in glass bulb and creating a vacuum pump to extract air from the bulb the filament burnt much longer(Swezy). Thomas Edison continued his experiments with electricity. He successfully set up a system of electric generators enabling everyone to benefit from electricity. This in itself is a bigger feat than actually inventing electricity. Thomas obtained money from businessmen and set up the Edison Electric Light company.
Today this is know as General Electric Thomas continued to invent things throughout his life. In 1891, Thomas invented the “Kinetograph” and “Projecting Kinetoscope. ” This was the first practical motion picture camera. It was an animated peep-show; the viewer looked through an opening and saw moving pictures. Thomas Edison is also responsible for one abstract discovery. The “Edison Effect” is a phenomenon that occurs when a current flows between two electrodes in a light bulb. This discovery formed the basis for the development of the electron tube.
Thomas Edison died on October 18, 1931 as an American inventor and pioneer industrialist. Three days later, on October 21, 1931, electric lights were dimmed for one minute throughout the United States(Pathways). Thomas was dismissed from school as retarded and was taught at home, he suffered from severe deafness, and survived scarlet fever. He defied all odds and became one of the greatest inventors, manufacturers, businessman, and founders of research ever. He is thus recognized as a hero of his times and one of the most prolific inventors of all time.