Who is Thomas Alva Edison?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Thomas Alva Edison was one of the most famous inventors in the history of the United States.  He invented many things that are or have been very important for people’s everyday lives.

Thomas Edison was born in Ohio in 1847.  He was the youngest of seven children.  Edison only went to school for three months.  He had a hard time paying attention and the teacher did not think he was very smart.  This caused his mother to teach him at home instead. 

Edison is famous for being a self-made man.  His family was not rich and, in 1859, he went to work selling candy and newspapers on a train in Michigan (where his family then lived).  He was interested and motivated enough to do chemistry experiments in a baggage car and to print a newspaper on that train. 

Edison got a big break in 1862 when he rescued a child from being killed by a train.  The child’s father taught him to be a telegraph operator as a reward.  He worked as a telegrapher until he decided to start working full-time as an inventor.

Edison invented many important things.  He invented an improved telegraph system that could send multiple messages along a given line at once.  He invented an improved stock ticker and an automatic vote counting machine.  He is most famous, however, for three inventions.  These are the phonograph, the electric light bulb (and electric power system), and a motion picture camera.

Having invented all of these things (and many more) Edison was one of the most famous inventors in American history.  He died in 1931.

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malkaam | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Thomas Alva Edison, born on the 11th of February in 1847, is considered one of the most important inventors of America, apart from being an inventor he was also a businessman. The most famous of his many inventions are particle electric light bulb, phonograph and motion picture camera. 

Given below are a few points about Edison's life:

  • Edison was  born to Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. and Nancy Matthews Elliott in Milan, Ohio.
  • His mother taught him at home.
  • He founded 14 companies, with General Electric being one of them.
  • He has 1093 US patents in his name, and many other patents in, UK, France and Germany. 
  • He first started work when he became a telegraph operator for Western Union, in 1866.
  • In 1871 Edison married Mary Stilwell, with whom he had 3 children. Mary died in 1884 of unknown causes, and in 1886 Edison married Mina Miller, they had 3 children as well.
  • Edison first began his career, as an inventor, in Newark, New Jersey.
  • The first invention of his that became famous was the phonograph, in 1877.
  •  He became known as "the Wizard of Menlo Park" when he invented the phonograph.
  • His major innovation was the establishment of the First Industrial Research Lab, built in Menlo park.
  • He invented the first commercially practical incandescent light, not the electric light bulb.
  • Edison Electric Light Company was founded in 1878 in New York City.
  • In 1880 he patented a system for electricity distribution.
  • By the end of 1880 he founded Edison Illuminating Company.
  • He won many awards during and after his lifetime, which included Matteucci Medal (1890), John Scott Medal (1889), Edward Longstreth Medal (1899), Franklin Medal (1915), Edison Medal (1923), Congressional Gold Medal (1928).
  • Edison was inducted in the New Jersey Hall Of Fame in 2008.
  • He died on October 18, 1931, due to complications of diabetes, in West Orange, New Jersey.
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rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. He is best known for his invention of the light bulb. However, Edison was a pretty successful inventor as he also developed the telegraph, phonograph, alkaline storage batteries, and Kinetograph (a camera).

Edison started off selling newspapers to people on the street and eventually created his own newspaper called Grand Trunk Herald. He used his his access to the railroad where he sold his newspapers to experiment in a small laboratory there. He then worked for a telegrapher, but then decided to be a full time inventor. 

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