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Thomas Edison

Portrait of Thomas Edison sitting down
Thomas Edison
by Louis Bachrach
Biographies >> Inventors and Scientists


Thomas Edison may be the greatest inventor in history. He has over 1000 patents in his name. Many of his inventions still have a major affect on our lives today. He was also a business entrepreneur. Many of his inventions were group efforts in his large invention laboratory where he had many people working for him to help develop, build, and test his inventions. He also started many companies including General Electric, which is one of the biggest corporations in the world today.

Where did Edison grow up?

Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio on February 11, 1847. His family soon moved to Port Huron, Michigan where he spent most of his childhood. Surprisingly, he did not do well in school and ended up being home schooled by his mother. Thomas was an enterprising young man, selling vegetables, candy and newspapers on trains. One day he saved a child from a runaway train. The child's father repaid Edison by training him as a telegraph operator. As a telegraph operator, Thomas became interested in communications, which would be the focus of many of his inventions.

Edison and Phonograph
by Levin C. Handy

What was Menlo Park?

Menlo Park, New Jersey is where Thomas Edison built his research labs. This was the first business or institution with the sole purpose of inventing. They would do research and science and then apply it to practical applications that could be manufactured and built on a large scale. There were a lot of employees working for Edison at Menlo park. These workers were inventors, too, and did a lot of work on Edison's ideas to help turn them into inventions.
Light bulb patent application by Thomas Edison
Light Bulb Patent Application
by Thomas Edison

What are Thomas Edison's most famous inventions?

Thomas Edison has the patents and credits for many inventions. Three of his most famous include:

The Phonograph - This was the first major invention by Edison and made him famous. It was the first machine that was able to record and playback sound.

Light Bulb - Although he did not invent the first electric light, Edison made the first practical electric light bulb that could be manufactured and used in the home. He also invented other items that were needed make the light bulb practical for use in homes including safety fuses and off/off switches for light sockets.

The Motion Picture - Edison did a lot of work in creating the motion picture camera and helping move forward the progress of practical movies.

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  • Light bulb by Tomas Edison
    Light Bulb by Thomas Edison
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