About the Inventor and Businessman of America – Thomas Elva Edison
Born on 11th February, 1847 in Milan located in Ohio Thomas Elva Edison is known for developing a number of devices that includes a motion picture camera, light bulb and also the phonograph. He was given the title of “The Wizard of Menlo Park” by a reporter of a newspaper. Thomas was one of the first inventors to apply the principle of mass production and this is the reason why he is given the credits for establishing the first ever industrial research laboratory. He is one of the four most prolific inventors in history and greatly contributed to the telecommunications sector. He was the man who discovered the concept and its implementation of the electric-power which could be distributed to business centers, homes and also factories.
- Nick name: The Wizard of Menlo Park
- Date of birth: 11th February, 1847
- Place of birth: Milan, Ohio
- Origin: Ohio
- Profession: Inventor
- Known for: His inventions of the electric bulb, motion picture camera
- Website: http://www.thomasedison.com/
Childhood and growing up years:
Thomas Edison was born on 11th February in the year of 1847 in Milan located in Ohio and was then shifted to Port Huron, the place where he grew up. Thomas was the last and seventh child of the blessed couple Ogden Edison and Nancy Matthews Elliott. However, Edison always considered himself to be a Dutch ancestry because his father had escaped to Canada to be a part of the unsuccessful Mackenzie Rebellion. During his school education, Thomas was a brilliant child who excellent in studies but his mind was always wandering and he ended his schooling in three months. It was Edison’s mother who played a significant role in shaping the adolescent mind and he recalls saying that he was so true about his upbringing. Once, he left school, Thomas was home schooling from his mother and majority of his reading was from the b0oks of R.G Parker’s “School of Natural Philosophy” and also “The Cooper union”. At a very young age, Thomas Edison developed hearing problems and the cause was said to be because of the scarlet fever which he had attributed in his childhood days combined with continuous middle-ear infections. In the year of 1854 when the railroad bypassed Milan, Thomas Edison’s parents forced him to relocate to Port Huron where his life turned bitter sweet. In this new city he lived by selling newspapers and candy on moving trains that ran from Port Huron to Detroit. Apart from this he also sold veggies from where he acquired supplemented income. While working on one hand, Thomas also studied the subject of qualitative analysis in which he conducted chemical experiments on the trains and stopped it until he met with an accident that was caused by the prohibition of further kind of work. During the same time, he obtained special rights through which he could sell newspapers on the road and also received assistance from four other people. This job then helped him to set into the industry of type where he started printing the Grand Trunk Herald which was sols along with other newspapers. This profession began the actual successful streak of the entrepreneurial venture in his life as Thomas discovered his talents as being a successful businessman. This skill and talent later on helped him to find 14 companies which included General Electric which still remains as one of the largest publicly trading companies all over the world.
Later on, Edison joined as a telegrapher, the job that he got when he saved the life of a 3-year old Jimmie MacKenzie from being struck by a running train. In return for this act of Thomas, Jimmie’s father who was a station agent was grateful and trained Edison to become a telegrapher operator. The first job of Edison as a telegrapher was far away from Port Huron in Stratford Junction. In the year of 1866, when Tomas Edison was nineteen years old Thomas requested for a night shift in his job so that he would have some time to spend on his favourite pastimes that comprises of experimenting and reading. Gradually, in the future, hobby of experimenting proved very useful as he found a stable job. One night in the year of 1867 while he was working with lead-acid battery, the chemical spilled sulfuric acid which fell on the floor and this fluid ran between the floorboards and also onto the desk of the boss. For this act of Thomas Edison he was terminated from the job and Edison had to hunt for another job to survive his life. An important mentor in his life during the early years of Thomas Edison was his fellow inventor and telegrapher Franklin Leonard Pope and it was he who allowed this unskilled youth to live his life while allowing him to work in his basement which was known as Elizabeth situated in his New Jersey house. One of the earliest inventions of Edison was related to telegraphy and this included a stock ticker. He first acquired patent rights for his electric vote recorder which was granted to him in the year of 1869 on June 1st. Two year later in the year of 1871 on 25th December, Tomas Edison was married to Mary-Stilwell who was 16 years old. He had met this lady just two months ago when she worked as an employer in one of his shops. The couple had three children. Sadly, in the year 1884 on August 9th Mary Edison died most possibly by a brain tumor or morphine overdose and in the year of 1886 on February 24th when Edison was thirty nine years old he got into a second marriage with a twenty-year old Mile Miller who was the daughter of the great inventor Lewis Miller. With her, he had three children.
Claim to fame:
Edison had begun his career as being an inventor in the city of Newark located in New Jersey when he first invented the automatic repeater. Besides this, he also worked on improving the telegraphic devices. Although he worked hard and invented these devices, it was way later in the year of 1877 when he first gained notice with his invention of the phonograph. The invention of a phonograph was so unexpected by people and it appeared as a magical device to many. With the invention of the phonograph, Thomas Edison came to be known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park” in the state of New Jersey. The first phonograph was recorded on a tinfoil which was around a grooved cylinder. But this had poor sound quality and also the recordings captured by this phonograph could be played on a few times. In 1880’s, he redesigned the model by making use of wax that was coated on the cardboards which was attached to the cylinders. This produced sound similar to the device produced by Graham Bell, Charles Tainter and also Chichester Bell. He worked hard on his phonograph until he acquired his own Perfect Phonograph.
Thomas Edison’s major revolution and innovation that brought him success came when he built the first industrial research lab which was situated in the Menlo Park of New Jersey. This lab was built after collecting funds from the sale exhibition that was conducted by Edison’s quadruplex telegraph. He was surprised when his creation got an offer of $10,000 and with grace he had accepted this offer. This quadruplex telegraph proved to be the greatest financial success for Edison and also Menlo Park was the first institution which was set up with a focused purpose. The aim of this Park was to have continuous long-term technological innovations and developments. The inventions that were made here by Edison were legally attributed and for this purpose he hired a number of employees who helped him out in carrying out research and improvements while working under the supervision of Thomas Edison. The staff would commonly work out in the research stage and these results would prove to be the driving force for Edison to carry forward the experiment for his inventions. In the year of 1879 on December, William Joseph Hammer who was a consultant in electrical engineering, started working in the laboratory by assisting Thomas Edison. He played an important role as he assisted Edison in his experiments that he made on phonograph, telephone, electric lighting, electric railway and many other inventions. Hammer’s duties were limited to work on the electric lamp and he was in-charge of testing and recording devices. Later in the year of 1880, he was promoted as a chief engineer to the Edison Lamp Works. Mostly all of Edison’s patents that he had acquired were utility patents and they were protected for seventeen long years. These patents were for his inventions that he had made on mechanical, chemical or electrical materials. In most of Thomas patents, the inventions elaborate on the improvements by focusing on prior art. Indeed, it was not Edison who invented the first electrical bulb but instead he was the first person to invent the practical commercially incandescent light. His invention was a major success because in the year 1878 Edison used the term filament to glowing wire which carries the current. During the same period, Swan developed a similar light which could withstand long lasting filament but his bulbs lacked high resistance which is required to keep the electric bulb everlasting. Although, his bulb was not as a successful invention when compared to Edison’s, Swan could obtain patent rights for his works in Britain which proved to be incomplete because it was not fully prepared and consequently it failed. Unable to cope with the capital which is required for the patent, he turned to Edison and with this Thomas Edison was forced get into a partnership venture with Swan for the working of an electric bulb. However, later on Swan acknowledged that Edison was entitled to attain the fame required for this invention and working with Edison had given him the chance to see the subject in-depth. By the year of 1879, Thomas Edison had produced another new concept which read as being a high resistant lamp in high vacuum and this would have the ability to burn for more hundreds of hours. Earlier inventors had produced light in laboratory conditions and Thomas Edison now concentrated on the commercial application of this electric bulb. This invention of Edison had seen success as it was largely been sold for businesses and home purposes as it could withstand mass-production with relatively long-lasting distribution of electricity. After a decade, the Menlo Park which was established by Edison ten years ago was now expanding as it now occupied two blocks of the city. These labs had the stock of every possible conceivable material required. With this he had created the first industrial laboratory which was concerned with producing knowledge and also controlling the application of this knowledge.
In the year of 1877 and 1878, Thomas Edison is given the credits for his invention and development of the carbon microphone which is used in every telephone. This device was also used in the Bell receiver till the year of 1980’s. This invention of Thomas had seen a patent litigation and in the year 1892 the federal court had ruled out the Edison had indeed invented the carbon microphone and it was not Emile Berliner. This device was also used in public address sessions and also radio broadcasting till the year of 1920’s.
Adding on the contributions of the previous developments, after three quarters of a century, Thomas Edison made developments to the idea of incandescent light and with this idea he entered into public minds as “the inventor” that he made to the contributions of inventing the light bulb which was a prime improvement in the development of all infrastructure which is required for electric power. After conducting a number of experiments with the precious metal platinum and various other filaments but towards the end Edison returned back to carrying out his experiments with carbon filament. Finally in the year of 1879 he as successful in his test and this test lasted for about forty hours. He further continued to work on this design and by the year of 1879 on November 4th, Edison filed for a United States patent rights for his invention of the electric bulb. After several months of acquiring patents for his inventions, Thomas Edison along with his team discovered another carbonized bamboo filament which could stay for 1,200 hours. The idea of using this filament had originally struck Edison was examining a few threads of a bamboo fishing pole when he was relaxing at the shore of the Battle Lake which is located in the state of Wyoming, the place where he and his friends where travelling to observe the eclipse in the year of 1878 from the place of Continental Divide. In the year of 1878, Thomas Edison established the Edison Electric Light Company in the state of New York with the help of several financiers which also included J. P. Morgan and also the members of the Vanderbilt family. He came out in public and made his first public demonstration of his electric bulb in the year of 1879 on 31st December in Menlo Park. In the further days, Lewis Latimer joined hands with the company established by Thomas Edison in the year of 1884.
In the year of 1880, Thomas Edison opted for a patented system for his invention of the electricity distribution which is the essential element to capitalize for the invention of the electric lamp. In the same year on 17th December, Edison founded the Edison Illuminating Company. This was first company which was established by an inventor in Pearl Street Station in the state of New York. In 1882, September 4th Edison shifted from working on the Pearl Street where he was generating and distributing power system at 110 volts to Manhattan. AT the beginning of the same year in the month of January, he had switched from the first steam generation power to Holborn Viaduct which is situated in London. This power supply was used to provide electric supply to a number of private houses which were located within the short distance from the station and also to street lamps.
However, it was only during the war of currents that Thomas Edison had achieved his true success similar to the efforts of his friend Henry Ford who has the ability to maximize his profits by setting up mass-systems by acquiring intellectual property rights. Thomas and George Westinghouse had become adversaries by now because of the efforts that Thomas had performed to promote direct current instead of the alternating current which was invented by Nikola Tesla. By the year of 1887, Thomas Edison set up 121 power stations alone in the United States which could deliver direct electricity to a number of customers. However, when limitations of the direct current were discussed among the public, Thomas Edison launched a campaign which could convince people to realize the hazards of alternative current. It was this war that pushed Thomas Edison to be involved with promotion and developments of the electric chair which could portray that direct current had a greater potential than alternative current. As part of the efforts of this campaign, his employees openly electrocuted animals so that they could demonstrate the dangers effects of alternative current.
Apart from the above inventions and developments, Thomas Edison is also credited for producing and designing the first ever fluoroscope which could be commercially available. The fluoroscope was a machine which makes use of X-Rays that will help to perform radiographs. Edison made use of calcium tungstate fluoroscopy screens in order to produce higher and brighter images. The fundamental design which is created by Thomas Edison is still used in the modern technological world, although he had abandoned himself from the project.
Thomas Edison played an active role in the developments of business activities at every end and just before his death in the year 1931, the Lackawanna Railroad had implemented the design of electric trains which would run in the suburban regions from Hoboken to Gladstone. With this we can understand that, Thomas Edison was an influential man and he died of certain diabetes complications in the year of 1931 on October 18th in his home in Glenmont which is situated in West Orange in New Jersey. He had purchased this house in the year 1886 as a gift for marrying Mina and his body lies in peace just behind his house. It is reportedly said that the last breath of Thomas Edison is contained in a test tube which is preserved at the Henry Ford Museum. This has been acquired as Charles Edison had convinced Ford to seal a test tube of the air just shortly after the death of the great inventor. His wife had a longer life to live as he died in the year of 1947.
All in all, the final key to Thomas Edison’s fortunes is the invention of his telegraphy that he had made with the knowledge that he had obtained by working as a telegraph operator through which he learnt the basics of electricity. This knowledge had allowed him to make his fortune by creating a stock ticker which was the first electricity based broadcast system. In the year of 1878, he got his sound recording and phonograph patented and at the same time he was also granted with patent rights for his invention of the motion picture camera which is known as “Kinetograph” for which he completed the electromechanical designing and his employee Dickson, who was a photographer had worked on the optical development of the camera. The year of 1891, the kinetoscope also known as peep-hole viewer was fully done and it was used in penny arcades. This helped people to watch short films.
To pay tribute to Thomas Edison, a number of places have been named after this great personality and one of the most notable places is Edison Town which is located in New Jersey. There is also a Thomas Edison State College which is a national college for adult learners situated in Trenton in New Jersey. Part from this there are also two other community colleges that are named after him one in Fort Myers and the other in Florida.
Awards and Nominations Received:
In the year of 1881, the President, Jules Grevy of the Third French Republic from the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs along with the representatives of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs had designated Thomas Edison with the distinction of “Officer of the Legion of Honour” on November 10th.
In the year of 1187, Thomas Edison was awarded with the Matteucci Medal and in the following year he was given the John Scott Medal. In the year of 1889, Edison won the Edward Longstreth Medal which was given by The Franklin Institute. Also, in the year of 1915, Edison was given the award of Franklin Medal by The Franklin Institute for the contributions that he had made to the development of industries and also the welfare of human-race.
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
“I know this world is ruled by infinite intelligence. Everything that surrounds us- everything that exists – proves that there are infinite laws behind it. There can be no denying this fact. It is mathematical in its precision.”
“His genius he was quite content in one brief sentence to define; of inspiration one percent, of perspiration, ninety nine”.
“It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work.”