Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

Overview


Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph
Phonograph
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

, the motion picture camera
Movie camera
The movie camera is a type of photographic camera which takes a rapid sequence of photographs on strips of film which was very popular for private use in the last century until its successor, the video camera, replaced it...

, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial research laboratory. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" (now Edison, New Jersey
Edison, New Jersey
Edison Township is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey. What is now Edison Township was originally incorporated as Raritan Township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 17, 1870, from portions of both Piscataway Township and Woodbridge Township...

) by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production
Mass production
Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines...

 and large teamwork to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.
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Timeline

1869   Thomas Edison receives a patent for his electric voting machine.

1876   Thomas Edison receives a patent for his mimeograph.

1877   Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound.

1877   Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph for the first time.

1877   Thomas Edison, first human voice recorded, {Mary had a little lamb.}

1878   Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.

1879   Using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tests the first practical electric incandescent light bulb (it lasted 13½ hours before burning out).

1879   Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time.

1880   Thomas Edison observes the Edison effect.

1880   In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.

 
Encyclopedia


Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph
Phonograph
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

, the motion picture camera
Movie camera
The movie camera is a type of photographic camera which takes a rapid sequence of photographs on strips of film which was very popular for private use in the last century until its successor, the video camera, replaced it...

, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial research laboratory. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" (now Edison, New Jersey
Edison, New Jersey
Edison Township is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey. What is now Edison Township was originally incorporated as Raritan Township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 17, 1870, from portions of both Piscataway Township and Woodbridge Township...

) by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production
Mass production
Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines...

 and large teamwork to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication
Mass communication
Mass communication is the term used to describe the academic study of the various means by which individuals and entities relay information through mass media to large segments of the population at the same time...

 and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker
Stock Ticker
Stock Ticker is a now out of print board game that was popular upon its release and is still played today. It was released by Copp-Clark Publishing, a venerable Canadian publisher.-Game play:...

, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures. His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison originated the concept and implementation of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. His first power station
Power station
A power station is an industrial facility for the generation of electric energy....

 was on Manhattan Island
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

, New York.

Early life


Thomas Edison was born in Milan
Milan, Ohio
Milan is a village in Erie and Huron counties in the U.S. state of Ohio. The population was 1,445 at the 2000 census.The Erie County portion of Milan is part of the Sandusky Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Huron County portion is part of the Norwalk Micropolitan Statistical Area.-History...

, Ohio, and grew up in Port Huron
Port Huron, Michigan
Port Huron is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of St. Clair County. The population was 30,184 at the 2010 census. The city is adjacent to Port Huron Township but is administratively autonomous. It is joined by the Blue Water Bridge over the St. Clair River to Sarnia,...

, Michigan. He was the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. (1804–96, born in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia
Marshalltown, Nova Scotia
Marshalltown is a rural community located just west of Digby, on Digby Neck, an isthmus of Nova Scotia, Canada, between the Bay of Fundy and Saint Mary's Bay. There was once an almshouse and poor farm...

, Canada) and Nancy Matthews Elliott (1810–1871, born in Chenango County, New York
Chenango County, New York
Chenango County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 50,477. The county's name originates from an Oneida word meaning "large bull-thistle." Its county seat is Norwich.-History:...

). His father had to escape from Canada because he took part in the unsuccessful Mackenzie Rebellion
Rebellions of 1837
The Rebellions of 1837 were a pair of Canadian armed uprisings that occurred in 1837 and 1838 in response to frustrations in political reform. A key shared goal was the allowance of responsible government, which was eventually achieved in the incident's aftermath.-Rebellions:The rebellions started...

 of 1837. Edison considered himself to be of Dutch ancestry.

In school, the young Edison's mind often wandered, and his teacher, the Reverend Engle, was overheard calling him "addled". This ended Edison's three months of official schooling. Edison recalled later, "My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint." His mother homeschooled him. Much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker's School of Natural Philosophy
School of natural philosophy
School of Natural Philosophy is a scientific textbook by Richard Green Parker. It is credited with inspiring the inventor Thomas Edison.-External links:*...

and The Cooper Union.

Edison developed hearing problems at an early age. The cause of his deafness has been attributed to a bout of scarlet fever
Scarlet fever
Scarlet fever is a disease caused by exotoxin released by Streptococcus pyogenes. Once a major cause of death, it is now effectively treated with antibiotics...

 during childhood and recurring untreated middle-ear infections. Around the middle of his career Edison attributed the hearing impairment to being struck on the ears by a train conductor when his chemical laboratory in a boxcar caught fire and he was thrown off the train in Smiths Creek, Michigan, along with his apparatus and chemicals. In his later years he modified the story to say the injury occurred when the conductor, in helping him onto a moving train, lifted him by the ears.

Edison's family was forced to move to Port Huron
Port Huron
Port Huron is the name of a city and a township in St. Clair County, Michigan. See:* Port Huron, Michigan* Port Huron Township, MichiganSee also:* Port Huron Statement...

, Michigan, when the railroad bypassed Milan in 1854, but his life there was bittersweet. He sold candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit, and he sold vegetables to supplement his income. He also studied qualitative analysis, and conducted chemical experiments on the train until an accident caused the prohibition of further work of the kind. He obtained the exclusive right of selling newspapers on the road, and, with the aid of four assistants, he set in type and printed the Grand Trunk Herald, which he sold with his other papers. This began Edison's long streak of entrepreneurial ventures as he discovered his talents as a businessman. These talents eventually led him to found 14 companies, including General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

, which is still in existence as one of the largest publicly traded companies
Public company
This is not the same as a Government-owned corporation.A public company or publicly traded company is a limited liability company that offers its securities for sale to the general public, typically through a stock exchange, or through market makers operating in over the counter markets...

 in the world.

Telegrapher


Edison became a telegraph operator after he saved three-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from being struck by a runaway train. Jimmie's father, station agent
Station agent
In many countries, the station agent is the person in charge of a railway station Variants of station agents can also work at other transit terminals such as airports, ferry terminals, etc....

 J.U. MacKenzie of Mount Clemens, Michigan
Mount Clemens, Michigan
Mount Clemens is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 17,312. It is the county seat of Macomb County.-Early history:...

, was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph operator. Edison's first telegraphy job away from Port Huron was at Stratford Junction, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, on the Grand Trunk Railway
Grand Trunk Railway
The Grand Trunk Railway was a railway system which operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, as well as the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec; however, corporate...

. In 1866, at the age of 19, Thomas Edison moved to Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

, where, as an employee of Western Union
Western Union
The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S...

, he worked the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 bureau news wire
News agency
A news agency is an organization of journalists established to supply news reports to news organizations: newspapers, magazines, and radio and television broadcasters. Such an agency may also be referred to as a wire service, newswire or news service.-History:The oldest news agency is Agence...

. Edison requested the night shift, which allowed him plenty of time to spend at his two favorite pastimes—reading and experimenting. Eventually, the latter pre-occupation cost him his job. One night in 1867, he was working with a lead–acid battery when he spilled sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

 onto the floor. It ran between the floorboards and onto his boss's desk below. The next morning Edison was fired.

One of his mentors during those early years was a fellow telegrapher and inventor named Franklin Leonard Pope
Franklin Leonard Pope
Franklin Leonard Pope was an American engineer, explorer, and inventor.-Biography:He was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the son of Ebenezer Pope and Electra Wainwright. He was a telegrapher, electrical engineer, explorer, inventor, and patent attorney.He was also a major contributor to...

, who allowed the impoverished youth to live and work in the basement of his Elizabeth, New Jersey
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Elizabeth is a city in Union County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 124,969, retaining its ranking as New Jersey's fourth largest city with an increase of 4,401 residents from its 2000 Census population of 120,568...

 home. Some of Edison's earliest inventions were related to telegraphy, including a stock ticker. His first patent was for the electric vote recorder, (U.S. Patent 90,646), which was granted on June 1, 1869.

Marriages and children



On December 25, 1871, Edison married 16-year-old Mary Stilwell, whom he had met two months earlier as she was an employee at one of his shops. They had three children:
  • Marion Estelle Edison (1873–1965), nicknamed "Dot"
  • Thomas Alva Edison, Jr. (1876–1935), nicknamed "Dash"
  • William Leslie Edison (1878–1937) Inventor, graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, 1900.


Mary Edison died on August 9, 1884, of unknown causes: possibly from a brain tumor
Brain tumor
A brain tumor is an intracranial solid neoplasm, a tumor within the brain or the central spinal canal.Brain tumors include all tumors inside the cranium or in the central spinal canal...

, possibly from a morphine overdose.

On February 24, 1886, at the age of thirty nine, Edison married 20-year-old Mina Miller in Akron, Ohio
Akron, Ohio
Akron , is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110. The Akron Metropolitan...

. She was the daughter of inventor Lewis Miller, co-founder of the Chautauqua Institution
Chautauqua Institution
The Chautauqua Institution is a non-profit adult education center and summer resort located on 750 acres in Chautauqua, New York, 17 miles northwest of Jamestown in the western part of New York State...

 and a benefactor of Methodist charities. They also had three children:
  • Madeleine Edison (1888–1979), who married John Eyre Sloane.
  • Charles Edison
    Charles Edison
    Charles Edison was son of Thomas Edison to Mina, businessman, Assistant and then United States Secretary of the Navy, and served as the 42nd Governor of New Jersey.-Biography:...

     (1890–1969), who took over the company upon his father's death and who later was elected Governor of New Jersey
    Governor of New Jersey
    The Office of the Governor of New Jersey is the executive branch for the U.S. state of New Jersey. The office of Governor is an elected position, for which elected officials serve four year terms. While individual politicians may serve as many terms as they can be elected to, Governors cannot be...

    . He also took charge of his father's experimental laboratories in West Orange
    West Orange, New Jersey
    West Orange is a township in central Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township population was 46,207...

    .
  • Theodore Edison (1898–1992), (MIT Physics 1923), had over 80 patents to his credit.


Mina outlived Thomas Edison, dying on August 24, 1947.

Beginning his career




Thomas Edison began his career as an inventor in Newark, New Jersey
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

, with the automatic repeater and his other improved telegraphic devices, but the invention which first gained him notice was the phonograph
Phonograph
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

 in 1877. This accomplishment was so unexpected by the public at large as to appear almost magical. Edison became known as "The Wizard of Menlo Park," New Jersey. His first phonograph recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder, but had poor sound quality
Sound quality
Sound quality is the quality of the audio output from various electronic devices. Sound quality can be defined as the degree of accuracy with which a device records or emits the original sound waves...

 and the recordings could only be played a few times. In the 1880s, a redesigned model using wax-coated cardboard cylinders was produced by Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone....

, Chichester Bell
Chichester Bell
Chichester A. Bell was a chemist, cousin to Alexander Graham Bell, and instrumental in developing improved versions of the phonograph.- Life :...

, and Charles Tainter
Charles Sumner Tainter
Charles Sumner Tainter was an American scientific instrument maker, engineer and inventor, best known for his collaborations with Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, Alexander's father-in-law Gardiner Hubbard, and for his significant improvements to Thomas Edison's phonograph, resulting in the...

. This was one reason that Thomas Edison continued work on his own "Perfected Phonograph."

Menlo Park (1876–1881)


Edison's major innovation was the first industrial research lab, which was built in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was built with the funds from the sale of Edison's quadruplex telegraph
Quadruplex telegraph
The Quadruplex telegraph is a type of electrical telegraph which allows a total of four separate signals to be transmitted and received on a single wire at the same time Quadruplex telegraphy thus implements a form of multiplexing.The technology was invented by American inventor Thomas Edison, who...

. After his demonstration of the telegraph, Edison was not sure that his original plan to sell it for $4,000 to $5,000 was right, so he asked Western Union to make a bid. He was surprised to hear them offer $10,000, ($202,000 USD 2010) which he gratefully accepted. The quadruplex telegraph was Edison's first big financial success, and Menlo Park became the first institution set up with the specific purpose of producing constant technological innovation and improvement. Edison was legally attributed with most of the inventions produced there, though many employees carried out research and development under his direction. His staff was generally told to carry out his directions in conducting research, and he drove them hard to produce results.


William Joseph Hammer
William Joseph Hammer
William Joseph Hammer was an pioneer electrical engineer and aviator and he was president of the Edison Pioneers starting in 1908.-Biography:...

, a consulting electrical engineer, began his duties as a laboratory assistant to Edison in December
1879. He assisted in experiments on the telephone, phonograph, electric railway, iron ore separator
Edison Ore-Milling Company
The Edison Ore-Milling Company was a venture by Thomas Edison that began in 1881. Edison introduced some significant technological developments to the iron ore milling industry but the company ultimately proved to be unprofitable...

, electric lighting
Incandescent light bulb
The incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe makes light by heating a metal filament wire to a high temperature until it glows. The hot filament is protected from air by a glass bulb that is filled with inert gas or evacuated. In a halogen lamp, a chemical process...

, and other developing inventions. However, Hammer worked primarily on the incandescent electric lamp and was put in charge of tests and records on that device. In 1880, he was appointed chief engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. In his first year, the plant under General Manager Francis Robbins Upton
Francis Robbins Upton
Francis Robbins Upton was an American physicist and mathematician.-Biography:Upton graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover in 1870...

 turned out 50,000 lamps. According to Edison, Hammer was "a pioneer of incandescent electric lighting".


Nearly all of Edison's patents were utility patents, which were protected for a 17-year period and included inventions or processes that are electrical, mechanical, or chemical in nature. About a dozen were design patent
Design patent
In the United States, a design patent is a patent granted on the ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents are a type of industrial design right. Ornamental designs of jewelry, furniture, beverage containers and computer icons are examples of objects that are covered by design...

s, which protect an ornamental design for up to a 14-year period. As in most patents, the inventions he described were improvements over prior art
Prior art
Prior art , in most systems of patent law, constitutes all information that has been made available to the public in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent's claims of originality...

. The phonograph patent, in contrast, was unprecedented as describing the first device to record and reproduce sounds. Edison did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light. Many earlier inventors had previously devised incandescent lamps including Henry Woodward
Henry Woodward (inventor)
Henry Woodward was a Canadian inventor and a major pioneer in the development of the incandescent lamp.-Work on the incandescent light bulb:On July 24, 1874, Woodward and his partner, Mathew Evans, a hotel keeper, patented an electric light bulb. Woodward was a medical student at the time. Their...

, and Mathew Evans
Mathew Evans
Mathew Evans is one of two Canadians who developed and patented an incandescent light bulb, on July 24, 1874, five years before Thomas Alva Edison's U.S...

. Others who developed early and not commercially practical incandescent electric lamps included Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet FRS MRIA was a British chemist and inventor. He is probably best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine...

, James Bowman Lindsay
James Bowman Lindsay
James Bowman Lindsay was a Scottish inventor and author. He is credited with early developments in several fields, such as incandescent lighting and telegraphy.- Life and work :...

, Moses G. Farmer
Moses G. Farmer
Moses Gerrish Farmer was an electrical engineer and inventor. Farmer was a member to the AIEE, later known as the IEEE.-Biography:...

, William E. Sawyer
William E. Sawyer
William Edward Sawyer was an American inventor whose contribution was primarily in the field of electric engineering and electric lighting.His primary inventions included:* Telegraph apparatus for cable use...

, Joseph Swan
Joseph Swan
Sir Joseph Wilson Swan was a British physicist and chemist, most famous for the invention of the incandescent light bulb for which he received the first patent in 1878...

 and Heinrich Göbel
Heinrich Göbel
Heinrich Göbel, later Henry Goebel , born in Springe, Germany, was a precision mechanic. He emigrated in 1848 to New York City and lived there until his death. In 1865 he changed his nationality....

. Some of these early bulbs had such flaws as an extremely short life, high expense to produce, and high electric current
Electric current
Electric current is a flow of electric charge through a medium.This charge is typically carried by moving electrons in a conductor such as wire...

 drawn, making them difficult to apply on a large scale commercially. In 1878, Edison applied the term filament to the element
Electrical element
Electrical elements are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electrical components, such as resistors, capacitors, and inductors, used in the analysis of electrical networks...

 of glowing wire carrying the current, although the English inventor Joseph Swan
Joseph Swan
Sir Joseph Wilson Swan was a British physicist and chemist, most famous for the invention of the incandescent light bulb for which he received the first patent in 1878...

 had used the term prior to this. Swan developed an incandescent light with a long lasting filament at about the same time as Edison, as Swan's earlier bulbs lacked the high resistance needed to be an effective part of an electrical utility. Edison and his co-workers set about the task of creating longer-lasting bulbs. In Britain, Joseph Swan had been able to obtain a patent on the incandescent lamp because although he had been making successful lamps some time before Edison was tardy in applying for patents so application was submitted by Edison but failed due to an oversight in the drafting of Edison's patent application. Unable to raise the required capital in Britain because of this, Edison was forced to enter into a joint venture with Swan (known as Ediswan). Swan acknowledged that Edison had anticipated him, saying "Edison is entitled to more than I ... he has seen further into this subject, vastly than I, and foreseen and provided for details that I did not comprehend until I saw his system". By 1879, Edison had produced a new concept: a high resistance lamp in a very high vacuum, which would burn for hundreds of hours. While the earlier inventors had produced electric lighting in laboratory conditions, dating back to a demonstration of a glowing wire by Alessandro Volta
Alessandro Volta
Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Gerolamo Umberto Volta was a Lombard physicist known especially for the invention of the battery in 1800.-Early life and works:...

 in 1800, Edison concentrated on commercial application, and was able to sell the concept to homes and businesses by mass-producing relatively long-lasting light bulbs and creating a complete system for the generation and distribution of electricity.

In just over a decade Edison's Menlo Park laboratory had expanded to occupy two city blocks. Edison said he wanted the lab to have "a stock of almost every conceivable material". A newspaper article printed in 1887 reveals the seriousness of his claim, stating the lab contained "eight thousand kinds of chemicals, every kind of screw made, every size of needle, every kind of cord or wire, hair of humans, horses, hogs, cows, rabbits, goats, minx, camels ... silk in every texture, cocoons, various kinds of hoofs, shark's teeth, deer horns, tortoise shell ... cork, resin, varnish and oil, ostrich feathers, a peacock's tail, jet, amber, rubber, all ores ..." and the list goes on.

Over his desk, Edison displayed a placard with Sir Joshua Reynolds' famous quotation: "There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking." This slogan was reputedly posted at several other locations throughout the facility.

With Menlo Park, Edison had created the first industrial laboratory concerned with creating knowledge and then controlling its application.

Carbon telephone transmitter


In 1877–78, Edison invented and developed the carbon microphone
Carbon microphone
The carbon microphone, also known as a carbon button microphone or a carbon transmitter, is a sound-to-electrical signal transducer consisting of two metal plates separated by granules of carbon. One plate faces outward and acts as a diaphragm...

 used in all telephones along with the Bell receiver until the 1980s. After protracted patent litigation, in 1892 a federal court ruled that Edison—and not Emile Berliner
Emile Berliner
Emile Berliner or Emil Berliner was a German-born American inventor. He is best known for developing the disc record gramophone...

—was the inventor of the carbon microphone. The carbon microphone was also used in radio broadcasting and public address work through the 1920s.

Electric light




Building on the contributions of other developers over the previous three quarters of a century, Edison made significant improvements to the idea of incandescent light, and wound up in the public consciousness as "the inventor" of the lightbulb
Incandescent light bulb
The incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe makes light by heating a metal filament wire to a high temperature until it glows. The hot filament is protected from air by a glass bulb that is filled with inert gas or evacuated. In a halogen lamp, a chemical process...

, and a prime mover in developing the necessary infrastructure for electric power.

After many experiments with platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 and other metal filaments, Edison returned to a carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 filament. The first successful test was on October 22, 1879; it lasted 40 hours. Edison continued to improve this design and by November 4, 1879, filed for U.S. patent 223,898 (granted on January 27, 1880) for an electric lamp using "a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected to platina contact wires". Although the patent described several ways of creating the carbon filament including "cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways", it was not until several months after the patent was granted that Edison and his team discovered a carbonized
Carbonization
Carbonization or carbonisation is the term for the conversion of an organic substance into carbon or a carbon-containing residue through pyrolysis or destructive distillation. It is often used in organic chemistry with reference to the generation of coal gas and coal tar from raw coal...

 bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 filament that could last over 1,200 hours. The idea of using this particular raw material originated from Edison's recalling his examination of a few threads from a bamboo fishing pole while relaxing on the shore of Battle Lake in the present-day state of Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, where he and other members of a scientific team had traveled so that they could clearly observe a total eclipse of the sun on July 29, 1878, from the Continental Divide
Continental Divide
The Continental Divide of the Americas, or merely the Continental Gulf of Division or Great Divide, is the name given to the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain...

.

In 1878, Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City with several financiers, including J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric...

 and the members of the Vanderbilt family
Vanderbilt family
The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin prominent during the Gilded Age. It started off with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy...

. Edison made the first public demonstration of his incandescent light bulb on December 31, 1879, in Menlo Park. It was during this time that he said: "We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles."

Lewis Latimer joined the Edison Electric Light Company in 1884. Latimer had received a patent in January 1881 for the "Process of Manufacturing Carbons", an improved method for the production of carbon filaments for lightbulbs. Latimer worked as an engineer, a draftsman and an expert witness in patent litigation on electric lights.

George Westinghouse's
George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse, Jr was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry. Westinghouse was one of Thomas Edison's main rivals in the early implementation of the American electricity system...

 company bought Philip Diehl's
Philip Diehl (inventor)
Philip H. Diehl was a German-American engineer and inventor who held several U.S. patents, including electric incandescent lamps, electric motors for sewing machines and other uses, and ceiling fans...

 competing induction lamp
Electrodeless lamp
An electrodeless lamp is a light source in which the power required to generate light is transferred from outside the lamp envelope to inside via electromagnetic fields, in contrast with a typical electrical lamp that uses electrical connections through the lamp envelope to transfer power...

 patent rights (1882) for $25,000, forcing the holders of the Edison patent to charge a more reasonable rate for the use of the Edison patent rights and lowering the price of the electric lamp.

On October 8, 1883, the US patent office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

 ruled that Edison's patent was based on the work of William Sawyer and was therefore invalid. Litigation continued for nearly six years, until October 6, 1889, when a judge ruled that Edison's electric light improvement claim for "a filament of carbon of high resistance" was valid. To avoid a possible court battle with Joseph Swan
Joseph Swan
Sir Joseph Wilson Swan was a British physicist and chemist, most famous for the invention of the incandescent light bulb for which he received the first patent in 1878...

, whose British patent had been awarded a year before Edison's, he and Swan formed a joint company called Ediswan to manufacture and market the invention in Britain.

Mahen Theatre
Mahen Theatre
Mahen Theatre is a Czech theatre situated in the city of Brno. Mahen Theatre, built as German Deutsches Stadttheater in 1882, was one of the first public buildings in the world lit entirely by electric light...

 in Brno
Brno
Brno by population and area is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, the largest Moravian city, and the historical capital city of the Margraviate of Moravia. Brno is the administrative centre of the South Moravian Region where it forms a separate district Brno-City District...

 (in what is now the Czech Republic) was the first public building in the world to use Edison's electric lamps, with the installation supervised by Edison's assistant in the invention of the lamp, Francis Jehl
Francis Jehl
- References :* Francis Jehl Dies; An Edison Pioneer. , p 24* Israel, Paul. Edison: A Life of Invention. , 1998* Jehl, Francis. Working with Edison. , p BR 12...

. In September 2010, a sculpture of three giant light bulbs was erected in Brno, in front of the theatre.

Electric power distribution


Edison patented a system for electricity distribution
Electricity distribution
File:Electricity grid simple- North America.svg|thumb|380px|right|Simplified diagram of AC electricity distribution from generation stations to consumers...

 in 1880, which was essential to capitalize on the invention of the electric lamp. On December 17, 1880, Edison founded the Edison Illuminating Company
Edison Illuminating Company
The Edison Illuminating Company was established by Thomas Edison on December 17, 1880, to construct electrical generating stations, initially in New York City...

. The company established the first investor-owned electric utility in 1882 on Pearl Street Station
Pearl Street Station
Pearl Street Station was the first central power plant in the United States. It was located at 255-257 Pearl Street in Manhattan on a site measuring 50 by 100 feet, just south of Fulton Street. It began with one direct current generator, and it started generating electricity on September 4, 1882,...

, New York City. It was on September 4, 1882, that Edison switched on his Pearl Street
Pearl Street (Manhattan)
Pearl Street is a street in the Lower section of the New York City borough of Manhattan, running northeast from Battery Park to the Brooklyn Bridge, then turning west and terminating at Centre Street...

 generating station's electrical power distribution system, which provided 110 volts direct current
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

 (DC) to 59 customers in lower Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

.

Earlier in the year, in January 1882 he had switched on the first steam generating power station at Holborn Viaduct
Holborn Viaduct
Holborn Viaduct is a bridge in London and the name of the street which crosses it . It links Holborn, via Holborn Circus, with Newgate Street in the City of London, passing over Farringdon Street and the now subterranean River Fleet.It was built between 1863 and 1869, at a cost of over two million...

 in London. The DC supply system provided electricity supplies to street lamps and several private dwellings within a short distance of the station. On January 19, 1883, the first standardized incandescent electric lighting system employing overhead wires
Overhead lines
Overhead lines or overhead wires are used to transmit electrical energy to trams, trolleybuses or trains at a distance from the energy supply point...

 began service in Roselle, New Jersey
Roselle, New Jersey
Roselle is a Borough located in Union County in the state of New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough population was 21,085....

.

War of currents




Edison's true success, like that of his friend Henry Ford
Henry Ford
Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry...

, was in his ability to maximize profits through establishment of mass-production systems and intellectual property rights. George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse, Jr was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry. Westinghouse was one of Thomas Edison's main rivals in the early implementation of the American electricity system...

 and Edison became adversaries because of Edison's promotion of direct current
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

 (DC) for electric power distribution instead of the more easily transmitted alternating current
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 (AC) system invented by Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

 and promoted by Westinghouse. Unlike DC, AC could be stepped up to very high voltages with transformer
Transformer
A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another through inductively coupled conductors—the transformer's coils. A varying current in the first or primary winding creates a varying magnetic flux in the transformer's core and thus a varying magnetic field...

s, sent over thinner and cheaper wires, and stepped down again at the destination for distribution to users.

In 1887 there were 121 Edison power stations in the United States delivering DC electricity to customers. When the limitations of DC were discussed by the public, Edison launched a propaganda campaign to convince people that AC was far too dangerous to use. The problem with DC was that the power plants could economically deliver DC electricity only to customers within about one and a half miles (about 2.4 km) from the generating station, so that it was suitable only for central business districts. When George Westinghouse suggested using high-voltage
High voltage
The term high voltage characterizes electrical circuits in which the voltage used is the cause of particular safety concerns and insulation requirements...

 AC instead, as it could carry electricity hundreds of miles with marginal loss of power, Edison waged a "War of Currents
War of Currents
In the "War of Currents" era in the late 1880s, George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison became adversaries due to Edison's promotion of direct current for electric power distribution over alternating current advocated by several European companies and Westinghouse Electric based out of Pittsburgh,...

" to prevent AC from being adopted.

The war against AC led him to become involved in the development and promotion of the electric chair
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

 (using AC) as an attempt to portray AC to have greater lethal potential than DC. Edison went on to carry out a brief but intense campaign to ban the use of AC or to limit the allowable voltage for safety purposes. As part of this campaign, Edison's employees publicly electrocuted
Electric shock
Electric Shock of a body with any source of electricity that causes a sufficient current through the skin, muscles or hair. Typically, the expression is used to denote an unwanted exposure to electricity, hence the effects are considered undesirable....

 animals to demonstrate the dangers of AC; alternating electric currents are slightly more dangerous in that frequencies near 60 Hz have a markedly greater potential for inducing fatal "cardiac fibrillation" than do direct currents. On one of the more notable occasions, in 1903, Edison's workers electrocuted Topsy the elephant at Luna Park, near Coney Island
Coney Island
Coney Island is a peninsula and beach on the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brooklyn, New York, United States. The site was formerly an outer barrier island, but became partially connected to the mainland by landfill....

, after she had killed several men and her owners wanted her put to death. His company filmed the electrocution.

AC replaced DC in most instances of generation and power distribution, enormously extending the range and improving the efficiency of power distribution. Though widespread use of DC ultimately lost favor for distribution, it exists today primarily in long-distance high-voltage direct current
High-voltage direct current
A high-voltage, direct current electric power transmission system uses direct current for the bulk transmission of electrical power, in contrast with the more common alternating current systems. For long-distance transmission, HVDC systems may be less expensive and suffer lower electrical losses...

 (HVDC) transmission systems. Low voltage DC distribution continued to be used in high-density downtown areas for many years but was eventually replaced by AC low-voltage network distribution in many of them. DC had the advantage that large battery
Battery (electricity)
An electrical battery is one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Since the invention of the first battery in 1800 by Alessandro Volta and especially since the technically improved Daniell cell in 1836, batteries have become a common power...

 banks could maintain continuous power through brief interruptions of the electric supply from generators and the transmission system
Transmission system
In telecommunications a transmission system is a system that transmits a signal from one place to another. The signal can be an electrical, optical or radio signal....

. Utilities such as Commonwealth Edison
Commonwealth Edison
Commonwealth Edison is the largest electric utility in Illinois, serving the Chicago and Northern Illinois area...

 in Chicago had rotary converter
Rotary converter
A rotary converter is a type of electrical machine which acts as a mechanical rectifier or inverter. It was used to convert AC to DC or DC to AC power before the advent of chemical or solid state power rectification...

s or motor-generator
Motor-generator
A motor-generator is a device for converting electrical power to another form. Motor-generator sets are used to convert frequency, voltage, or phase of power. They may also be used to isolate electrical loads from the electrical power supply line...

 sets, which could change DC to AC and AC to various frequencies in the early to mid-20th century. Utilities supplied rectifiers to convert the low voltage AC to DC for such DC loads as elevators, fans and pumps. There were still 1,600 DC customers in downtown New York City as of 2005, and service was finally discontinued only on November 14, 2007. Most subway systems
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 are still powered by direct current.

Fluoroscopy


Edison is credited with designing and producing the first commercially available fluoroscope
Fluoroscopy
Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique commonly used by physicians to obtain real-time moving images of the internal structures of a patient through the use of a fluoroscope. In its simplest form, a fluoroscope consists of an X-ray source and fluorescent screen between which a patient is placed...

, a machine that uses X-rays to take radiographs. Until Edison discovered that calcium tungstate
Scheelite
Scheelite is a calcium tungstate mineral with the chemical formula CaWO4. It is an important ore of tungsten. Well-formed crystals are sought by collectors and are occasionally fashioned into gemstones when suitably free of flaws...

 fluoroscopy screens produced brighter images than the barium platinocyanide
Platinocyanide
A platinocyanide is a salt containing the anion Pt42-. Barium platinocyanide, BaPt4, was important in the discovery of X-rays, and in the development of the fluoroscope. One platinocyanide salt with interesting conductive properties is Krogmann's salt....

 screens originally used by Wilhelm Röntgen, the technology was capable of producing only very faint images. The fundamental design of Edison's fluoroscope is still in use today, despite the fact that Edison himself abandoned the project after nearly losing his own eyesight and seriously injuring his assistant, Clarence Dally
Clarence Madison Dally
Clarence Madison Dally was an American glassblower, noted as an assistant to Thomas Edison in his work on X-rays and as an early victim of radiation dermatitis and its complications.- Early life and education :...

. Dally had made himself an enthusiastic human guinea pig for the fluoroscopy project and in the process been exposed to a poisonous dose of radiation. He later died of injuries related to the exposure. In 1903, a shaken Edison said "Don't talk to me about X-rays, I am afraid of them."

Work relations



Frank J. Sprague
Frank J. Sprague
Frank Julian Sprague was an American naval officer and inventor who contributed to the development of the electric motor, electric railways, and electric elevators...

, a competent mathematician and former naval officer
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, was recruited by Edward H. Johnson
Edward H. Johnson
Edward Hibberd Johnson was an inventor and business associate of American inventor Thomas Alva Edison. He was involved in many of Edison's projects, and was a partner in an early organization which evolved into the General Electric Company, one of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the United...

 and joined the Edison organization in 1883. One of Sprague's significant contributions to the Edison Laboratory at Menlo Park was to expand Edison's mathematical methods. Despite the common belief that Edison did not use mathematics, analysis of his notebooks reveal that he was an astute user of mathematical analysis conducted by his assistants such as Francis Robbins Upton
Francis Robbins Upton
Francis Robbins Upton was an American physicist and mathematician.-Biography:Upton graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover in 1870...

, for example, determining the critical parameters of his electric lighting system including lamp resistance by a sophisticated analysis of Ohm's Law
Ohm's law
Ohm's law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference across the two points...

, Joule's Law
Joule's law
Joule's laws are a pair of laws concerning the heat produced by a current and the energy dependence of an ideal gas to that of pressure, volume, and temperature, respectively...

 and economics.

Another of Edison's assistants was Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

. Tesla claimed that Edison promised him $50,000 if he succeeded in making improvements to his DC generation plants. Several months later, when Tesla had finished the work and asked to be paid, he said that Edison replied, "When you become a full-fledged American you will appreciate an American joke." Tesla immediately resigned. With Tesla's salary of $18 per week, the payment would have amounted to over 53 years' pay and the amount was equal to the initial capital of the company. Tesla resigned when he was refused a raise to $25 per week. Although Tesla accepted an Edison Medal later in life, this and other negative series of events concerning Edison remained with Tesla. The day after Edison died, the New York Times contained extensive coverage of Edison's life, with the only negative opinion coming from Tesla who was quoted as saying:
One of Edison's famous quotations regarding his attempts to make the light globe suggest that perhaps Tesla was right about Edison's methods of working: "If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."

When Edison was a very old man and close to death, he said, in looking back, that the biggest mistake he had made was that he never respected Tesla or his work.

There were 28 men recognized as Edison Pioneers
Edison Pioneers
The Edison Pioneers was a group of former employees and other associates of Thomas Edison.On February 11, 1918, the Edison Pioneers met for the first time, on the 71st birthday of Edison...

.

Media inventions


The key to Edison's fortunes was telegraphy. With knowledge gained from years of working as a telegraph operator, he learned the basics of electricity. This allowed him to make his early fortune with the stock ticker
Ticker tape
Ticker tape was the earliest digital electronic communications medium, transmitting stock price information over telegraph lines, in use between around 1870 through 1970...

, the first electricity-based broadcast system. Edison patented the sound recording and reproducing phonograph in 1878. Edison was also granted a patent for the motion picture camera or "Kinetograph". He did the electromechanical design, while his employee W.K.L. Dickson, a photographer, worked on the photographic and optical development. Much of the credit for the invention belongs to Dickson. In 1891, Thomas Edison built a Kinetoscope
Kinetoscope
The Kinetoscope is an early motion picture exhibition device. Though not a movie projector—it was designed for films to be viewed individually through the window of a cabinet housing its components—the Kinetoscope introduced the basic approach that would become the standard for all cinematic...

, or peep-hole viewer. This device was installed in penny arcades, where people could watch short, simple films. The kinetograph and kinetoscope were both first publicly exhibited May 20, 1891.

On August 9, 1892, Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph. In April 1896, Thomas Armat's
Thomas Armat
Thomas J. Armat was an American mechanic and inventor, a pioneer of cinema best known through the co-invention of the Edison Vitascope.-Biography:...

 Vitascope
Vitascope
Vitascope was an early film projector first demonstrated in 1895 by Charles Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat. They had made modifications to Jenkins patented "Phantoscope", which cast images via film & electric light onto a wall or screen...

, manufactured by the Edison factory and marketed in Edison's name, was used to project motion pictures in public screenings in New York City. Later he exhibited motion pictures with voice soundtrack on cylinder recordings, mechanically synchronized with the film.
Officially the kinetoscope entered Europe when the rich American Businessman Irving T. Bush
Irving T. Bush
Irving T. Bush was an American businessman. His father was the wealthy industrialist, oil refinery owner, and yachtsman Rufus T. Bush. As founder of the Bush Terminal Company, Irving T...

 (1869–1948) bought from the Continental Commerce Company of Franck Z. Maguire and Joseph D. Bachus a dozen machines. Bush placed from October 17, 1894, the first kinetoscopes in London. At the same time the French company Kinétoscope Edison Michel et Alexis Werner bought these machines for the market in France. In the last three months of 1894 The Continental Commerce Company sold hundreds of kinetoscopes in Europe (i.e. the Netherlands and Italy). In Germany and in Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 the kinetoscope was introduced by the Deutsche-österreichische-Edison-Kinetoscop Gesellschaft, founded by the Ludwig Stollwerck of the Schokoladen-Süsswarenfabrik Stollwerck & Co of Cologne. The first kinetoscopes arrived in Belgium at the Fairs in early 1895. The Edison's Kinétoscope Français, a Belgian company, was founded in Brussels on January 15, 1895, with the rights to sell the kinetoscopes in Monaco, France and the French colonies. The main investors in this company were Belgian industrialists. On May 14, 1895, the Edison's Kinétoscope Belge was founded in Brussels. The businessman Ladislas-Victor Lewitzki, living in London but active in Belgium and France, took the initiative in starting this business. He had contacts with Leon Gaumont
Léon Gaumont
Léon Gaumont was a French inventor, engineer, and industrialist who was a pioneer of the motion picture industry....

 and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. In 1898 he also became a shareholder of the Biograph and Mutoscope Company for France.

In 1901, he visited the Sudbury area in Ontario, Canada, as a mining prospector, and is credited with the original discovery of the Falconbridge ore body. His attempts to actually mine the ore body were not successful, however, and he abandoned his mining claim in 1903. A street in Falconbridge, as well as the Edison Building
Edison Building (Falconbridge)
The Edison Building is a historic building in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. Located at 5 Lindsley Street in the community of Falconbridge, the building was constructed in 1969 as the head office for Falconbridge Ltd.'s operations in the Sudbury area...

, which served as the head office of Falconbridge Mines
Falconbridge Ltd.
Falconbridge Limited was a Toronto, Ontario-based natural resources company with operations in 18 countries, involved in the exploration, mining, processing, and marketing of metal and mineral products, including nickel, copper, cobalt, and platinum. It was listed on the TSX and NYSE , and had...

, are named for him.

In 1902, agents of Thomas Edison bribed a theater owner in London for a copy of A Trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès
Georges Méliès
Georges Méliès , full name Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, was a French filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest cinema. He was very innovative in the use of special effects...

. Edison then made hundreds of copies and showed them in New York City. Méliès received no compensation. He was counting on taking the film to the US and recapture its huge cost by showing it throughout the country when he realized it had already been shown there by Edison. This effectively bankrupted Méliès. Other exhibitors similarly routinely copied and exhibited each others films. To better protect the copyrights on his films, Edison deposited prints of them on long strips of photographic paper
Photographic paper
Photographic paper is paper coated with light-sensitive chemicals, used for making photographic prints.Photographic paper is exposed to light in a controlled manner, either by placing a negative in contact with the paper directly to produce a contact print, by using an enlarger in order to create a...

 with the U.S. copyright office. Many of these paper prints survived longer and in better condition than the actual films of that era.

Edison's favorite movie was The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation is a 1915 American silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and based on the novel and play The Clansman, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr. Griffith also co-wrote the screenplay , and co-produced the film . It was released on February 8, 1915...

. He thought that talkies had "spoiled everything" for him. "There isn't any good acting on the screen. They concentrate on the voice now and have forgotten how to act. I can sense it more than you because I am deaf." His favorite stars were Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford was a Canadian-born motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

 and Clara Bow
Clara Bow
Clara Gordon Bow was an American actress who rose to stardom in the silent film era of the 1920s. It was her appearance as a spunky shopgirl in the film It that brought her global fame and the nickname "The It Girl." Bow came to personify the roaring twenties and is described as its leading sex...

.

In 1908, Edison started the Motion Picture Patents Company
Motion Picture Patents Company
The Motion Picture Patents Company , founded in December 1908, was a trust of all the major American film companies , the leading film distributor and the biggest supplier of raw film stock, Eastman Kodak...

, which was a conglomerate of nine major film studios (commonly known as the Edison Trust). Thomas Edison was the first honorary fellow of the Acoustical Society of America
Acoustical Society of America
The Acoustical Society of America is an international scientific society dedicated to increasing and diffusing the knowledge of acoustics and its practical applications.-History:...

, which was founded in 1929.

West Orange and Fort Myers (1886–1931)



Edison moved from Menlo Park after the death of Mary Stilwell and purchased a home known as "Glenmont" in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina in Llewellyn Park
Llewellyn Park
Llewellyn Park is a gated residential community of 175 homes within West Orange, New Jersey. Llewellyn Park does not have its own municipal government, but operates as part of the Township of West Orange. It is located just west of New York City....

 in West Orange, New Jersey
West Orange, New Jersey
West Orange is a township in central Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township population was 46,207...

. In 1885, Thomas Edison bought property in Fort Myers
Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers is the county seat and commercial center of Lee County, Florida, United States. Its population was 62,298 in the 2010 census, a 29.23 percent increase over the 2000 figure....

, Florida, and built what was later called Seminole Lodge as a winter retreat. Edison and his wife Mina spent many winters in Fort Myers where they recreated and Edison tried to find a domestic source of natural rubber.

Henry Ford
Henry Ford
Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry...

, the automobile magnate, later lived a few hundred feet away from Edison at his winter retreat in Fort Myers, Florida. Edison even contributed technology to the automobile. They were friends until Edison's death.

In 1928, Edison joined the Fort Myers Civitan Club. He believed strongly in the organization, writing that "The Civitan Club is doing things —big things— for the community, state, and nation, and I certainly consider it an honor to be numbered in its ranks." He was an active member in the club until his death, sometimes bringing Henry Ford to the club's meetings.

The final years


Edison was active in business right up to the end. Just months before his death in 1931, the Lackawanna Railroad
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company was a railroad connecting Pennsylvania's Lackawanna Valley, rich in anthracite coal, to Hoboken, New Jersey, , Buffalo and Oswego, New York...

 implemented electric trains in suburban service from Hoboken
Hoboken, New Jersey
Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

 to Gladstone
Gladstone, New Jersey
Gladstone is an unincorporated area within Peapack-Gladstone in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. The area is served as United States Postal Service ZIP Code 07934....

, Montclair
Montclair, New Jersey
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 38,977 people, 15,020 households, and 9,687 families residing in the township. The population density was 6,183.6 people per square mile . There were 15,531 housing units at an average density of 2,464.0 per square mile...

 and Dover
Dover, New Jersey
Dover is a town in Morris County, New Jersey on the Rockaway River. Dover is west of New York City and west of Newark, New Jersey. As of the United States Census, 2000, the town's population was 18,188.-Geography:...

 in New Jersey. Transmission was by means of an overhead catenary system, with the entire project under Edison's guidance. To the surprise of many, he was at the throttle of the very first MU (Multiple-Unit) train to depart Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, driving the train all the way to Dover. As another tribute to his lasting legacy, the same fleet of cars Edison deployed on the Lackawanna in 1931 served commuters until their retirement in 1984, when some of them were purchased by the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum
Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum
The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum is a railroad museum located in Lenox, Massachusetts, United States that offers historical exhibits as well as train rides up to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, United States on the Housatonic Railroad right of way. The Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum was founded in...

 in Lenox, Massachusetts
Lenox, Massachusetts
Lenox is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. Set in Western Massachusetts, it is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 5,077 at the 2000 census. Where the town has a border with Stockbridge is the site of Tanglewood, summer...

. A special plaque commemorating the joint achievement of both the railway and Edison can be seen today in the waiting room of Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, presently operated by New Jersey Transit
New Jersey Transit
The New Jersey Transit Corporation is a statewide public transportation system serving the United States state of New Jersey, and New York, Orange, and Rockland counties in New York State...

.

Edison was said to have been influenced by a popular fad diet
Food faddism
The phrases food faddism and fad diet originally referred to idiosyncratic diets and eating patterns that promote short-term weight loss, usually with no concern for long-term weight maintenance, and enjoy temporary popularity...

 in his last few years; "the only liquid he consumed was a pint of milk every three hours". He is reported to have believed this diet would restore his health. However, this tale is doubtful. In 1930, the year before Edison died, Mina said in an interview about him that "Correct eating is one of his greatest hobbies." She also said that during one of his periodic "great scientific adventures", Edison would be up at 7:00, have breakfast at 8:00, and be rarely home for lunch or dinner, implying that he continued to have all three.

Edison became the owner of his Milan, Ohio
Milan, Ohio
Milan is a village in Erie and Huron counties in the U.S. state of Ohio. The population was 1,445 at the 2000 census.The Erie County portion of Milan is part of the Sandusky Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Huron County portion is part of the Norwalk Micropolitan Statistical Area.-History...

, birthplace in 1906. On his last visit, in 1923, he was shocked to find his old home still lit by lamps and candles.

Thomas Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931, in his home, "Glenmont" in Llewellyn Park
Llewellyn Park
Llewellyn Park is a gated residential community of 175 homes within West Orange, New Jersey. Llewellyn Park does not have its own municipal government, but operates as part of the Township of West Orange. It is located just west of New York City....

 in West Orange, New Jersey
West Orange, New Jersey
West Orange is a township in central Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township population was 46,207...

, which he had purchased in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina. He is buried behind the home.

Edison's last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at the Henry Ford
Henry Ford
Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry...

 Museum. Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor's room shortly after his death, as a memento. A plaster death mask
Death mask
In Western cultures a death mask is a wax or plaster cast made of a person’s face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits...

 was also made.

Mina died in 1947.

Views on politics, religion and metaphysics


Historian Paul Israel has characterized Edison as a "freethinker
Freethought
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...

". Edison was heavily influenced by Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

's The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of...

. Edison defended Paine's "scientific deism
Deism
Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

", saying, "He has been called an atheist
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, but atheist he was not. Paine believed in a supreme intelligence, as representing the idea which other men often express by the name of deity." In an October 2, 1910, interview in the New York Times Magazine, Edison stated:

Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me — the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love — He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us — nature did it all — not the gods of the religions.

Edison was called an atheist for those remarks, and although he did not allow himself to be drawn into the controversy publicly, he clarified himself in a private letter: "You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God. There is no such denial, what you call God I call Nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter. All the article states is that it is doubtful in my opinion if our intelligence or soul or whatever one may call it lives hereafter as an entity or disperses back again from whence it came, scattered amongst the cells of which we are made."

Nonviolence was key to Edison's moral views, and when asked to serve as a naval consultant for World War I, he specified he would work only on defensive weapons and later noted, "I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill." Edison's philosophy of nonviolence extended to animals as well, about which he stated: "Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." However, he is also notorious for having electrocuted a number of dogs in 1888, both by direct and alternating current, in an attempt to argue that the former (which he had a vested business interest in promoting) was safer than the latter (favored by his rival George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse, Jr was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry. Westinghouse was one of Thomas Edison's main rivals in the early implementation of the American electricity system...

). Edison's success in promoting direct current as less lethal also led to alternating current being used in the electric chair adopted by New York in 1889 as a supposedly humane execution method; because Westinghouse was angered by the decision, he funded Eighth Amendment
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual...

-based appeals for inmates set to die in the electric chair, ultimately resulting in Edison providing the generators which powered early electrocutions and testifying successfully on behalf of the state that electrocution was a painless method of execution.

Places and people named for Edison


Several places have been named after Edison, most notably the town of Edison, New Jersey
Edison, New Jersey
Edison Township is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey. What is now Edison Township was originally incorporated as Raritan Township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 17, 1870, from portions of both Piscataway Township and Woodbridge Township...

. Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College is a public institution of higher education located in Trenton, New Jersey. One of New Jersey's 12 public universities and colleges, Thomas Edison State College offers degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level....

, a nationally known college for adult learners, is in Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton is the capital of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913...

. Two community colleges are named for him: Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida, and
Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio
Piqua, Ohio
Piqua is a city in Miami County, Ohio, United States. The population was 20,738 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area.Piqua was one of the cities that experienced severe flooding during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913....

. There are numerous high schools named after Edison; see Edison High School
Edison High School
Edison High School is the name of many schools named after Thomas Edison:Schools with the full name:*Thomas A. Edison High School — Jamaica, Queens*Thomas A. Edison High School — Elmira Heights, New York...

.

The City Hotel, in Sunbury, Pennsylvania
Sunbury, Pennsylvania
Sunbury is a city in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city is located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, just downstream of the confluence of its main and West branches. The population was 9,905 at the 2010 census...

, was the first building to be lit with Edison's three-wire system. The hotel was re-named The Hotel Edison, and retains that name today.

Three bridges around the United States have been named in his honor (see Edison Bridge).

In space, his name is commemorated in asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 742 Edisona
742 Edisona
-External links:*...

.

The Russian composer Edison Denisov
Edison Denisov
Edison Vasilievich Denisov was a Russian composer of so called "Underground" — "Anti-Collectivist", "alternative" or "nonconformist" division in the Soviet music.-Biography:...

, whose father was a radio-physicist, was named after the inventor.

Museums and memorials


In West Orange, New Jersey, the 13.5 acre (5.5 ha) Glenmont estate is maintained and operated by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 as the Edison National Historic Site
Edison National Historic Site
Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves Thomas Edison's laboratory and residence, Glenmont, in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey. For more than forty years, the laboratory had a major impact on the lives of people worldwide...

. The Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum
Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum
The Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park, also known as the Menlo Park Museum / Edison Memorial Tower, is a memorial to inventor and businessman Thomas Alva Edison, located in the Menlo Park area of Edison, New Jersey...

 is in the town of Edison, New Jersey. In Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont is a city in and county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's population was 118,296 at the 2010 census. With Port Arthur and Orange, it forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the...

, there is an Edison Museum, though Edison never visited there. The Port Huron Museum
Port Huron Museum
The Port Huron Museum is a series of five museums located in Port Huron, Michigan, USA. It includes the Carnegie Center -- Port Huron Museum, Huron Lightship, Thomas Edison Depot Museum, USCGC Bramble , and Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. The museum was founded in 1967....

, in Port Huron, Michigan
Port Huron, Michigan
Port Huron is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of St. Clair County. The population was 30,184 at the 2010 census. The city is adjacent to Port Huron Township but is administratively autonomous. It is joined by the Blue Water Bridge over the St. Clair River to Sarnia,...

, restored the original depot that Thomas Edison worked out of as a young newsbutcher. The depot has been named the Thomas Edison Depot Museum
Thomas Edison Depot Museum
The Thomas Edison Depot Museum is located underneath the Blue Water Bridge connecting Port Huron, Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The depot is owned and operated by the Port Huron Museum and is the actual depot that inventor Thomas Edison worked out of as a news butcher between 1859 and 1863...

. The town has many Edison historical landmarks, including the graves of Edison's parents, and a monument along the St. Clair River
St. Clair River
The St. Clair River is a river in central North America which drains Lake Huron into Lake St Clair, forming part of the international boundary between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Michigan...

. Edison's influence can be seen throughout this city of 32,000. In Detroit, the Edison Memorial Fountain in Grand Circus Park was created to honor his achievements. The limestone fountain was dedicated October 21, 1929, the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the lightbulb. On the same night, The Edison Institute
The Henry Ford
The Henry Ford, a National Historic Landmark, , in the Metro Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, USA, is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex...

 was dedicated in nearby Dearborn
Dearborn, Michigan
-Economy:Ford Motor Company has its world headquarters in Dearborn. In addition its Dearborn campus contains many research, testing, finance and some production facilities. Ford Land controls the numerous properties owned by Ford including sales and leasing to unrelated businesses such as the...

.

In early 2010, Edison was proposed by the Ohio Historical Society
Ohio Historical Society
The Ohio Historical Society is a non-profit organization incorporated in 1885 as The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society "to promote a knowledge of archaeology and history, especially in Ohio"...

 as a finalist in a statewide vote for inclusion in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

.

Companies bearing Edison's name


  • Edison General Electric, merged with Thomson-Houston Electric Company
    Thomson-Houston Electric Company
    The Thomson-Houston Electric Company was a manufacturing company which was one of the precursors of the General Electric Company.The Thomson-Houston Electric Company was formed in 1883 in the United States when a group of Lynn, Massachusetts investors led by Charles A...

     to form General Electric
    General Electric
    General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

  • Commonwealth Edison
    Commonwealth Edison
    Commonwealth Edison is the largest electric utility in Illinois, serving the Chicago and Northern Illinois area...

    , now part of Exelon
    Exelon
    Exelon Corporation is an electricity generating and distributing company headquartered in the Chase Tower in the Chicago Loop area of Chicago. It was created in October, 2000 by the merger of PECO Energy Company and Unicom, of Philadelphia and Chicago respectively. Unicom owned Commonwealth Edison...

  • Consolidated Edison
    Consolidated Edison
    Consolidated Edison, Inc. is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States, with approximately $14 billion in annual revenues and $36 billion in assets...

  • Edison International
    Edison International
    Edison International is a public utility holding company based in Rosemead, California. Its subsidiaries include Southern California Edison, and un-regulated non-utility assets Edison Mission Energy and Midwest Generation, power producers, and Edison Capital...

    • Southern California Edison
      Southern California Edison
      Southern California Edison , the largest subsidiary of Edison International , is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California, USA. It provides 14 million people with electricity...

    • Edison Mission Energy
      Edison Mission Energy
      Edison Mission Energy is an independent power producer based in California and owned by Edison International. In the 1990s, EME owned electricity generating assets in Victoria, Australia and 51% of Contact Energy in New Zealand....

    • Edison Capital
  • Detroit Edison
    Detroit Edison
    The Detroit Edison Company, founded in 1903, is an investor-owned electric utility which serves most of Southeast Michigan. Its parent company, DTE Energy , provides energy services to a variety of clients beyond Detroit Edison's service area.- History :...

    , a unit of DTE Energy
    DTE Energy
    DTE Energy Co. is a Detroit, Michigan-based utility incorporated in 1995 involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide....

  • Edison Sault Electric Company, a unit of Wisconsin Energy Corporation
    Wisconsin Energy Corporation
    Wisconsin Energy Corporation , based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and more than 1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin through its utility subsidiary, We Energies...

  • FirstEnergy
    FirstEnergy
    FirstEnergy Corp. , is a diversified energy company headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Its subsidiaries and affiliates are involved in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services...

    • Metropolitan Edison
    • Ohio Edison
    • Toledo Edison
  • Edison S.p.A.
    Edison S.p.A.
    Edison S.p.A is the fifth largest energy company in Italy in the field of electricity and natural gas. It produces, imports and sells electric power and hydrocarbons.-History:...

    , a unit of Italenergia
  • Boston Edison
    Boston Edison
    Boston Edison can refer to:*Boston-Edison, a neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan.*Boston Edison Company, an operating unit of NSTAR...

    , a unit of NSTAR
    NSTAR
    NSTAR is a utility company that provides retail electricity and natural gas to 1.4 million customers in eastern and central Massachusetts, including the Boston urban area....

    , formerly known as the Edison Electric Illuminating Company
  • WEEI
    WEEI
    WEEI is a sports radio station in Boston, Massachusetts, that broadcasts on 850 kHz from a transmitter in Needham, Massachusetts, and is owned by Entercom Communications. The station is one of the top-rated sports talk radio stations in the nation. Studios are located in Brighton, Massachusetts...

     radio station in Boston, established by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company (hence the call letters)
  • Trade association the Edison Electric Institute
    Edison Electric Institute
    The Edison Electric Institute is the association of United States shareholder-owned electric power companies. Its members serve 95 percent of the ultimate customers in the shareholder-owned segment of the industry, and represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. electric power industry...

    , a lobbying and research group for investor-owned utilities in the United States
  • Edison Ore-Milling Company
    Edison Ore-Milling Company
    The Edison Ore-Milling Company was a venture by Thomas Edison that began in 1881. Edison introduced some significant technological developments to the iron ore milling industry but the company ultimately proved to be unprofitable...

  • Edison Portland Cement Company
    Edison Portland Cement Company
    The Edison Portland Cement Company was a venture by Thomas Edison that helped to improve the Portland cement industry. Edison was developing an iron ore milling process and discovered a market in the sale of waste sand to cement manufacturers...


Awards named in honor of Edison


The Edison Medal was created on February 11, 1904, by a group of Edison's friends and associates. Four years later the American Institute of Electrical Engineers
American Institute of Electrical Engineers
The American Institute of Electrical Engineers was a United States based organization of electrical engineers that existed between 1884 and 1963, when it merged with the Institute of Radio Engineers to form the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers .- History :The 1884 founders of the...

 (AIEE), later IEEE
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is a non-profit professional association headquartered in New York City that is dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence...

, entered into an agreement with the group to present the medal as its highest award. The first medal was presented in 1909 to Elihu Thomson
Elihu Thomson
Elihu Thomson was an American engineer and inventor who was instrumental in the founding of major electrical companies in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.-Early life:...

 and, in a twist of fate, was awarded to Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

 in 1917. It is the oldest award in the area of electrical and electronics engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

, and is presented annually "for a career of meritorious achievement in electrical science, electrical engineering or the electrical arts."

In the Netherlands, the major music awards are named the Edison Award after him.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers is a professional body, specifically an engineering society, focused on mechanical engineering....

 concedes the Thomas A. Edison Patent Award to individual patents since 2000.

Honors and awards given to Edison


The President of the Third French Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

, Jules Grévy
Jules Grévy
François Paul Jules Grévy was a President of the French Third Republic and one of the leaders of the Opportunist Republicans faction. Given that his predecessors were monarchists who tried without success to restore the French monarchy, Grévy is seen as the first real republican President of...

, on the recommendation of his Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister of Foreign Affairs (France)
Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs ), is France's foreign affairs ministry, with the headquarters located on the Quai d'Orsay in Paris close to the National Assembly of France. The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs in the government of France is the cabinet minister responsible for...

 Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire
Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire
Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire was a French philosopher, journalist, statesman, and possible illegitimate son of Napoleon I of France.- Biography :...

 and with the presentations of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs
Minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones (France)
The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, to which was later added the charge of Telephones , was, in the Government of France, the cabinet member in charge of the French Postal Service and development of the national telecommunication system.The position was occasionally combined with Minister of...

 Louis Cochery
Louis Adolphe Cochery
Louis Adolphe Cochery was a French politician and journalist.-References:...

, designated Edison with the distinction of an 'Officer of the Legion of Honour' (Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

) by decree on November 10, 1881;

In 1983, the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 140 (Public Law 97—198), designated February 11, Edison's birthday, as National Inventor's Day
Inventor's Day
Inventors' Day is a day of the year set aside by a country to recognise the contributions of inventors. Not all countries recognise Inventors' Day...

.

In 1887, Edison won the Matteucci Medal
Matteucci Medal
The Matteucci Medal was established to award physicists for their fundamental contributions. Under an Italian Royal Decree dated July 10, 1870, the Italian Society of Sciences was authorized to receive a donation from Carlo Matteucci for the establishment of the Prize.Matteucci Medalists* 1868...

. In 1890, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

.

In 1889, Edison was awarded the John Scott Medal.

In 1899, Edison was awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal of The Franklin Institute.

Edison was awarded Franklin Medal
Franklin Medal
The Franklin Medal was a science and engineering award presented by the Franklin Institute, of Philadelphia, PA, USA.-Laureates:*1915 - Thomas Alva Edison *1915 - Heike Kamerlingh Onnes *1916 - John J...

 of The Franklin Institute in 1915 for discoveries contributing to the foundation of industries and the well-being of the human race.

Edison was ranked thirty-fifth on Michael H. Hart's
Michael H. Hart
Michael H. Hart is an astrophysicist who has also written three books on history and controversial articles on a variety of subjects. Hart describes himself as a Jeffersonian liberal, while his critics call him a conservative and a racial separatist.-Science:Hart, a graduate of the Bronx High...

 1978 book The 100
The 100
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History is a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart, reprinted in 1992 with revisions. It is a ranking of the 100 people who, according to Hart, most influenced human history....

, a list of the most influential figures in history. Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

magazine (USA), in a special double issue in 1997, placed Edison first in the list of the "100 Most Important People in the Last 1000 Years", noting that the light bulb he promoted "lit up the world". In the 2005 television series The Greatest American
The Greatest American
The Greatest American was a four-part American television series hosted by Matt Lauer in 2005. The show featured biographies and lists of influential persons in U.S. history, and culminated in a contest in which millions in the audience nominated and voted for the person they felt was the "greatest...

, he was voted by viewers as the fifteenth-greatest.

In 2008, Edison was inducted in the New Jersey Hall of Fame
New Jersey Hall of Fame
The New Jersey Hall of Fame is an organization that honors individuals from the U.S. state of New Jersey who have made contributions to society and the world beyond....

.

In 2011, Edison was inducted into the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame
Entrepreneur Walk of Fame
The Entrepreneur Walk of Fame was established to recognize the positive impact of entrepreneurs on job creation and technological progress. Seven honorees were unveiled in the inaugural year...

.

On November 6, 1915 The New York Times announced that both Edison and Tesla were to jointly receive the 1915 Nobel Prize but it did not occur. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9F03E7D91239E333A25755C0A9679D946496D6CF The details of what happened are not known but Tesla who had once worked for Edison quit when he was promised a large bonus for solving a problem and then after being successful was told the promise was a joke. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1619.html Telsa once said that if Edison had to find a needle in a haystack he would take apart the haystack one straw at a time. http://thinkexist.com/quotation/if_edison_had_a_needle_to_find_in_a_haystack-he/346294.html The Prize was awarded to Sir William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg "for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays" .

Other items named after Edison


The United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 named the USS Edison (DD-439)
USS Edison (DD-439)
USS Edison , a Gleaves-class destroyer, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for Thomas Alva Edison, an inventor and businessman who developed many important devices....

, a Gleaves class destroyer
Gleaves class destroyer
The Gleaves-class destroyers were a class of 66 destroyers of the United States Navy built 1938–1942, and designed by Gibbs & Cox. The first ship of the class was the USS Gleaves . The U.S. Navy customarily names a class of ships after the first ship of the class; hence the Gleaves class...

, in his honor in 1940. The ship was decommissioned a few months after the end of World War II. In 1962, the Navy commissioned USS Thomas A. Edison (SSBN-610)
USS Thomas A. Edison (SSBN-610)
USS Thomas A. Edison , an ballistic-missile submarine, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the inventor, Thomas Edison .-Ship history:...

, a fleet ballistic missile nuclear-powered submarine. Decommissioned on December 1, 1983, Thomas A. Edison was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register
Naval Vessel Register
The Naval Vessel Register is the official inventory of ships and service craft in custody of or titled by the United States Navy. It contains information on ships and service craft that make up the official inventory of the Navy from the time a vessel is authorized through its life cycle and...

 on April 30, 1986. She went through the Navy's Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Bremerton, Washington, beginning on October 1, 1996. When she finished the program on December 1, 1997, she ceased to exist as a complete ship and was listed as scrapped.

In popular culture


Thomas Edison has appeared in popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 as a character in novels, films, comics and video games. His prolific inventing helped make him an icon and he has made appearances in popular culture during his lifetime down to the present day. His history with Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

 has also provided dramatic tension and is a theme returned to numerous times.

On February 11, 2011, on Thomas Edison's 164th birthday, Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

's homepage featured an animated Google Doodle commemorating his many inventions. When the cursor was hovered over the doodle, a series of mechanisms seemed to move, causing a lightbulb to glow.

See also


  • Animated Hero Classics
    Animated Hero Classics
    Animated Hero Classics is an educational Animated television series of programs co-produced by Nest Family Entertainment and Warner Bros. The series, geared toward elementary school aged children, includes twenty biographies of both female and male scientists, inventors, explorers, and social...

     – Animated DVD biography series of historical figures, including Thomas Edison
  • John I. Beggs
    John I. Beggs
    John Irvin Beggs was an American entrepreneur, industrialist and financier associated closely with the electric utility boom under Thomas Edison. He was also associated with Milwaukee, St. Louis, Missouri and other regional rail and interurban trolley systems...

  • List of Edison patents
  • List of people on stamps of Ireland
  • Thomas Alva Edison Birthplace
    Thomas Alva Edison Birthplace
    Thomas Alva Edison Birthplace is the historic house in which the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847. It is located at 9 Edison Drive in Milan, Ohio, in the United States. On October 15, 1966, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and declared a...

  • Thomas E. Murray
    Thomas E. Murray
    Thomas E. Murray was an American inventor and businessman who developed electric power plants for New York City as well as many electrical devices which influenced life around the world, including the dimmer switch and screw-in fuse...

  • Thomas Edison National Historical Park
  • Phonomotor
    Phonomotor
    The phonomotor or "vocal engine" was a device invented by Thomas Edison in 1878 to measure the mechanical force of sound. It converted sound energy or sound power into rotary motion which could drive a machine such as a small saw or drill...

  • Joseph Swan
    Joseph Swan
    Sir Joseph Wilson Swan was a British physicist and chemist, most famous for the invention of the incandescent light bulb for which he received the first patent in 1878...


External links


Locations

Information and media