Thomas Alva Edison (February 11th, 1847 – October 18th, 1931) was the man who invented the phonograph and the light bulb, mostly for the good of his mother Nancy, because she'd nightly been working late.


Early life

Edison - boy

Edison as a boy

Thomas Edison was born in 1847 in Milan, Ohio. He was the seventh and last child of Samuel and Nancy Edison. When he was 7 his family moved to Port Huron. He started attending school at the age 8. He attended school for a few months until his mother decided to withdraw him and teach her son at home. The family had a well stock library in which Thomas studied classics, including Newton's Principia.

At thirteen, he took a job as a newspaper carrier, selling newspapers and candy on the local railroad that ran through Port Huron to Detroit. He also wrote and published his own newspaper, The Weekly Herald. On one occasion Edison rescued a small boy from being hit by a train. Grateful,the boy's father tough Edison how to operate a telegraph.

After being kicked off the railway, Edison became a travelling telegraph operator for the Western Union.

He applied his first pattern in 1869. It was a vote counting machine. One of the telegraphers bought the machine and showed it to the congress in Washington D.C. However, politicians were dissatisfied with the invention because they didn't want votes to be counted quickly. They wanted time to change the minds of fellow legislators.


Drawing of electric vote recorder (source)


Photo of electric vote recorder

Life as an inventor

His first invention was an improved stock ticker called the Universal Stock Printer. It was developed in 1869 and Edison earned $40,000 for selling its rights. After this major success he quit his work as a telegrapher and devoted himself to full-time inventing.

During the following years Edison would work with various telegraph companies most of which were in competition with one another. During this time he developed improved versions of the telegraph. Very soon he would develop a duplex telegraph which was able to send two messages at the same time and a few years later a multiplex telegraph which send up to four signals. Around this time period he also develop a printer which converted electrical signals to letters.

Menlo Park laboratory

Edison invested his money in building independent industrial research facility in Menlo Park.

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