Updated May 30, 2023
About Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was a prolific personality and holds record-breaking 1093 patents! Marveling at his all-rounder of a great inventor-cum marketer, he became a folk hero. His inventions include an electric vote recorder, electric pen, stock printer, and photographer, to list a few. His inventions contributed $13 billion to the national economy, an all-time largest in his last days.
Early Life of Thomas Alva Edison
- Born on 11th February 1847 in Ohio, Thomas Alva Edison was the seventh child of his parents and one of the four who survived till adulthood.
- Marked as an ‘Addled’ by his school principal, Edison took him out of the school and started homeschooling him.
- Being a science enthusiast, he opened a laboratory at home to experiment with his curiosities.
- However, his mother didn’t let him continue, which led him to move to Grand Trunk railroads and start another one.
- Edison started working as a newspaper boy and candy seller for the railroads and set up a laboratory on the train.
Life as a Telegrapher
His life took a turn as his train laboratory caught fire, and he lost his newspaper job. Also, at 12 years, he lost almost all his hearing, the reason for which is still unclear. However, he used his deafness as an asset to focus on inventions better. Later, he started working as a full-time telegrapher for Western Union, taught to him by a stationmaster for saving his child’s life.
Rise of Thomas Alva Edison
- On June 1869, Thomas Alva Edison patented his first invention, Electric Vote Recorder, which met a disastrous outcome commercially.
- It changed Edison’s perspective, and he finalized working for practical solutions and no more random inventions.
- Edison moved to Newark, New Jersey, and opened a company to manufacture stock tickers in 1871.
- His quadruplex telegraph, capable of pinging four messages at once, earned him financial support for further ventures.
Rise of Invention Factory
Edison came to be renowned as the ” Wizard of the Menlo Park’, all thanks to the factory he started in the small village of Menlo Park in 1876, which gave birth to marvelous inventions. His venture became the world’s first R&D facility, whose astounding inventions earned him international name and fame.
The Era of Inventions
- He developed a carbon transmitter to transmit high-quality audible sounds. In the same year, Edison invented a tin-foil phonograph capable of recording and reproducing sounds.
- For his remarkable discovery, then president Rutherford B. Hayes invited him to the White House. in April 1878.
- Edison’s innovative mind led him to discover incandescent bulbs.
- His long-burning inexpensive carbon filament bulbs gave birth to an electric lighting system that lightened his laboratory for 13.5 hours!
- His Menlo Park lightning system demonstration in December 1879 won him accolades, and he became the founder of the electric industry.
- This chemistry lab-cum machine shop business grew on a large scale with several companies and skilled workers.
- His merger into Edison General Electric and then with competitor Thompston-Houston came down to just Electric General.
Motion Pictures Innovation
- After his first wife died in 1884, Edison moved to West Orange, and his ambitiousness opened a new laboratory there in November 1887.
- This 5-building large laboratory had a physics lab, chemistry lab, metallurgy lab, chemical storage house, and pattern shop.
- The ambitious genius went on a spree of multi-tasking on ten to twenty projects at once.
- After practically creating the recording industry, Edison began experimenting with motion pictures in 1891.
- His commercial production began in Black Marie, which he ultimately abandoned in 1981 due to stiff competition.
The Rise of Storage Battery
- Edison picked another challenge of developing an alkaline storage battery.
- In 1899, his exquisitiveness and persistence for ten years, his battery-powered miner lamps, railway cars, and submarines.
- 1915 Edison headed the Naval Consulting Board and became a cultural icon. The USA accoladed him with a lifetime achievement award in 1928.
Head-on with Failures
Although Edison was a genius mind, he went on to experienced commercial failures. From ink for the blind, electric vote recorder to magnetic-ore separator. Though his spirit never stopped him from experimenting and appreciating his failures. Thomas Alva Edison became the driving force for exquisite innovations. His exceptional ability for problem-solving practically led him to become one of the world’s most renowned personalities.