BulbThomas Edison is one of the world’s most famous inventors and geniuses.  He is responsible for some of the technical wonders that today we take for granted — a long lasting, practical version of the light bulb immediately springs to mind.  Almost every aspect of this man’s life was exceptional. . . read on to find out more!

While one of the most productive inventors with over 1,300 patents under his belt, Edison only had three months of formal schooling when he was 7 years old.  After that, his mother took over his education and taught him at home. While working as a telegraph operator for a railroad, the partial deafness he began to experience actually aided him in his job, blocking out extraneous noises.  Because some of his earliest inventions were related to telegraph transmission, it isn’t difficult to conclude that his first job brought him inspiration to improve the system.  After his work on the telegraph, his invention of the phonograph astounded the world and made him famous. 

Edison was one of the first people to use a team of scientists at a central laboratory location instead of relying on only himself to develop an understanding of how things work–and how to make them work.  His later ideas about mass production assembly lines transformed industry into more of a semblance of what we know today.  Edison also was a part of the first electrical power distribution system, which the community directly around his laboratory in Manhattan.

While of course many of Edison’s patents were original ideas, still others were improvements of earlier inventions.  He sometimes took credit for discoveries found by the workers in his laboratories.  One project, the first electric chair, was developed by employees–but Edison probably supervised because he was out to prove that his adversary, Nikola Tesla, was trying to push an alternative, deadly form of electrical current.  Despite Edison’s best efforts, Tesla’s version of electrical current gradually replaced Edison’s almost completely.

Thomas Edison’s (or one of his colleague’s) invention of the motion picture camera changed media distribution drastically.  Paired with the sound produced by one of his phonographs, customers could watch short films with both audio and visual tracks. 

Edison was great friends with Henry Ford and worked with him in collaborations that would advance the automobile. He was a vegetarian, a deist (meaning he did believed in a Higher Intelligence–though not necessarily that of theologians), and against violence.  He had six children over the course of two marriages.  Edison’s “last breath,” is on display at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in a corked test tube.