was a well known American inventor in
the late 1800s and early 1900s. His hundreds
of inventions, including the light bulb,
improvements on the telegraph, and the
phonograph, helped influence modern technology
Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847
in Milan, Ohio to middle-class parents.
Edison, although an overall bright child,
did not speak until the age of four at
which time he started questioning every
adult about the mechanical world around
him. In 1854 Edison and his family moved
to Port Huron, Michigan.
12 weeks at a schoolhouse, Edison's teacher
determined his endless questions and curiosities
were signs of a self-centered child. After
hearing of the teacher's lack of support
for her child's thirst for knowledge,
Edison's mother pulled him from school
and began teaching him at home. Her overwhelming
belief in her son's intelligence helped
Edison's confidence and self-esteem. He
would later attribute his success to her
persistence, love, and support. He was
seven at the time.
mother, an accomplished teacher, and his
father, a worldly scholar, helped shape
his knowleddge, exposing him not only
to the basics of education, but also to
elaborate history and literature. As a
result, Thomas Edison developed a keen
interest in English literature and world
history. At the age of 12, Edison's parents
exposed him to the local library which
would eventually shape his drive to find
knowledge on his own.
Edison eventually fell in love with science,
especially physics. After reading Newton's
"Principia" about gravity, Edison
was both hooked and jaded. He loved the
simplicity of Newton's theories but hated
the tone of voice used to deliver the
information. As a result of his endless
curiosity, Edison questioned his parents
about the intricacies of physics. His
parents decided to hire a tutor.
Edison's passion to learn continued and
he started developing the physical strength
to match his mental will. Unfortunately,
he outgrew his tutor and his poor sense
of hearing left him unable to study at
higher levels within the traditional academic
the age of 12, Edison's parents let him
sell goods and candy at the local railroad.
Edison even started selling his own version
of the newspaper at the age of 14 to railroad
patrons and started making enough money
to start a small chemistry lab in his
basement. His mother complained of the
smells and danger so Edison moved some
of his supplies to the railroad cars on
which he worked. Unfortunately, one of
the phosphorous sticks fell onto the floor
of the baggage car and ignited the luggage.
The conductor punished Edison and hit
him on the head, causing even more damage
to the boy's hearing.
Thomas Edison became totally deaf in his
left ear and only retained about 20% of
the hearing in his right ear. Later, when
Edison would have the opportunity to have
surgery to correct part of his hearing,
he would refuse, citing that he wouldn't
know how to concentrate in a noisy world.
long after his initial baggage car accident,
Edison saved a young boy from being hit
by a train. The small boy ended up being
the son of the stationmaster who was so
grateful to Edison that he taught him
how to use Morse code and the telegraph.
By the age of 15 Edison had mastered the
machine and would serve to replace other
telegraph operators who had left to serve
in the civil war. This gave Edison the
opportunity to experiment with the telegraph
and make improvements in the speed of
sending and receiving messages.
the next few years Edison travelled the
country working in the telegraph industry.
When he returned home penniless in 1868,
he found his mother suffering from mild
insanity and his father filing for bankruptcy.
To help save his family and his own future,
Edison took the advice of a man named
Billy Adams and left his home to take
a job as a telegraph employee at Western
Union in Boston, Massachusetts.
Edison spent 17 months in Boston working
and inventing. His first marketable invention,
the electric voting machine, could not
sell due to the needs of politicians to
exploit slow vote counting. Edison decided
to focus on inventions that would sell
in the market and began auditing classes
at Boston Tech (later MIT) to learn more
about new advances in electricity and
science. He became acquainted with Benjamin
Bredding, the man who would later help
Alexander Graham Bell produce the first
became dissuaded in Boston and, after
borrowing money from Bredding, purchased
a ticket to New York City. He went to
go find markets for his small inventions
and potential employment, but found none.
Hungry and poor, Edison visited the financial
district offices and found a man panicking
over a broken stock ticker. Having spent
a few nights in the office's basements
and exploring the intricate workings of
tickers, Thomas Edison helped him fix
it and the man hired him immediately for
$300 a month, a far better wage than he
had earned at Western Union.
his free time Edison still tinkered with
the telegraph and added the stock ticker
to his list. He began trying to sell some
of his inventions and ended up selling
all his rights to his ticker improvements
to a company for $40,000. He sent some
money back to his parents and paid back
Bredding. Edison used the rest to help
open a development laboratory in Newark,
New Jersey. In 1876 he moved it to Menlo
his ego was hurt when Bell beat him to
the invention of the telephone, Thomas
Edison did make improvements to the invention
and introduced his own strides in technology
with the electric light. In fact, Edison
helped develop an entire system of distributing
electricity and electric lights. His work
led to the opening of the Edison General
Electric Company which later merged with
another firm to become General Electric
Corporation in 1892. His work also helped
create the first "talking pictures"
that mixed sound with silent movies.
Edison fell ill in the late 1920s and
filed for his last patent at the age of
83. Over the course of his life Edison
managed to obtain almost 1100 patents
for his inventions and was well known
around the world for his work. Edison
died on October 18, 1931 with his wife,
Mina, by his side.
had two marriages, the first to Mary Stiwell
with whom he had three children before
her death in 1884. His second marriage
to Mina Miller lasted until Edison's death.
They had three children as well.
Thomas Edison biography may not
be reproduced online.
Copyright © Woopidoo.com (ek)