E - H
Edison, Thomas
By Cynthia Kirkeby, Sarah Lane
Mar 17, 2006, 15:14

Photograph copyright by Emil P. Spahn, Newark, New Jersey. Copyrighted 1880. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Thomas A. Edison: The Wizard of Menlo Park

1847 - 1931

In May of 1913, it was decided by a survey of independent magazine readers that Thomas A. Edison was the most useful man in the country. Although Edison was born on February 11th, 1847, the impact of his accomplishments are still being felt over a century later.
When he was a young boy, doctors feared that he might be brain damaged because of the size of his head.  However, by 1869, this odd young man named Thomas Alva Edison had become a full time inventor.  In addition to inventing the phonograph, incandescent light bulbs, and motion picture camera, Edison established over 1,093 patents earning him the nickname "The Wizard of Menlo Park."
On April 24, 1889 the Edison General Electric Company was organized.  In December of 1903, The Edison Manufacturing Company released its hit film, The Great Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S. Porter.  On May 21st, 1928 Edison received an honorary medal from Congress.  Three years later, on January 6th, 1931, Thomas Edison filed his last patentapplication.  He died in November of that same year. 
Thomas Alva Edison will be remembered as one of the most prolific inventors of all time.  His patents and discoveries cover a multitude of subjects, including: electric lighting, electric railways, secondary batteries, phonographs, cylinder records, and much more.  These inventions have made a significant impact on how science and invention have progressed in the century following this amazing man's life.

Additional Learning Links

Thomas A. Edison Papers
For some really cool information on Thomas A. Edison, check out Thomas A. Edison Papers from The State University of New Jersey Rutgers.  The National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the New Jersey Historical Commission sponsor this site.  Under the section titled Online Documents you'll find a section highlighting the best possible search methods and Edisos patents and clippings from his scrapbook and files. Other materials include Edisos Family and Life, Bibliographies, The Microfilm Edition, The Book Edition (Errata), Edisos companies separated by year, and maps and images from Edisos early life.
Source: The State University of New Jersey Rutgers
Edison Birthplace Museum
Another great place to visit is the Edison Birthplace Museum.  If you do not live in Ohio, just visit online and you will find a collection of rare Edison memorabilia including examples of many of Edisos early inventions, documents and family mementos.  There is also the history of the Edison family, the Town of Milan, and the Birthplace House.  His inventions are recorded by year and the patents are by number and application date.  Be sure to take the Birthplace Tour, which is very complete and includes numerous photos.
Source: Edison Birthplace Association, Inc.
Houston Inventor's Association
Think you'd like to be an inventor?  This is the place to find out.  This site includes helpful hints on how to go about the invention process while keeping your rights.  Also available is a list of sites devoted solely to inventors.
Source: Houston Inventos Association

Edison Sound Recordings
"I was never so taken aback in my life--I was always afraid of things that worked the first time." --Thomas A. Edison on hearing his voice play back to him from his first tin foil phonograph. Learn the history of the Edison Cylinder Phonograph and the Edison Discs Phonograph through this special presentation from the Library of Congress. You can even listen to Selected Diamond Disc Recordings.
Source: American Memory - The Library of Congress

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