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A Brief Biography of Thomas Alva Edison written by John D
In 1868 Edison became an independent inventor in Boston. Moving to New York the next year, he undertook inventive work for major telegraph companies. With money from those contracts he established a series of manufacturing shops in Newark, New Jersey, where he also employed experimental machinists to assist in his inventive work.
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Thomas Edison Biography for Kids – Inventor of the …
Thomas Edison died At 9 P.M. On Oct. 18th, 1931 in New Jersey. He was 84 years of age. Shortly before passing away, he awoke from a coma and quietly whispered to his very religious and faithful wife Mina, who had been keeping a vigil all night by his side: "It is very beautiful over there..."
Recognizing that his death marked the end of an era in the progress of civilization, countless individuals, communities, and corporations throughout the world dimmed their lights and, or, briefly turned off their electric power in his honor on the evening of the day he was laid to rest at his beautiful estate at Glenmont, New Jersey. Most realized that, even though he was far from being a flawless human being and may not have really had the avuncular personality that was so often ascribed to him by myth makers, he was an essentially good man with a powerful mission.... Driven by a superhuman desire to fulfill the promise of research and invent things to serve mankind, no one did more to help realize our Puritan founders dream of creating a country that - at its best - would be viewed by the rest of the world as "a shining city upon a hill."
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Thomas Alva Edison was the most prolific inventor in American history. He amassed a record 1,093 patents covering key innovations and minor improvements in wide range of fields, including telecommunications, electric power, sound recording, motion pictures, primary and storage batteries, and mining and cement technology. As important, he broadened the notion of invention to encompass what we now call innovation-invention, research, development, and commercialization-and invented the industrial research laboratory. Edison's role as an innovator is evident not only in his two major laboratories at Menlo Park and West Orange in New Jersey but in more than 300 companies formed worldwide to manufacture and market his inventions, many of which carried the Edison name, including some 200 Edison illuminating companies.
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Garden of Praise: Thomas Edison Biography
In 1882 he flipped a switch and85 houses in New York City had electric lights for the first time.
Thomas Edison was probably the world's greatest inventor.
He was the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison Jr
Once the Civil War ended, to his mother's great dismay, Tom decided that it was time to "seek his fortune." So, over the next few years, he meandered throughout the Central States, supporting himself as a "tramp operator".
At age 16, after working in a variety of telegraph offices, where he performed numerous "moonlight" experiments, he finally came up with his first authentic invention. Called an "automatic repeater," it transmitted telegraph signals between unmanned stations, allowing virtually anyone to easily and accurately translate code at their own speed and convenience. Curiously, he never patented the initial version of this idea.
In 1868 - after making a name for himself amongst fellow telegraphers for being a rather flamboyant and quick witted character who enjoyed playing "mostly harmless" practical jokes - he returned home one day ragged and penniless. Sadly, he found his parents in an even worse predicament.... First, his beloved mother was beginning to show signs of insanity "which was probably aggravated by the strains of an often difficult life." Making matters worse, his rather impulsive father had just quit his job and the local bank was about to foreclose on the family homestead.
Tom promptly came to grips with the pathos of this situation and - perhaps for the first time in his life - also resolved to come to grips with a number of his own immature shortcomings. After a good deal of soul searching, he finally decided that the best thing he could do would be to get right back out on his own and try to make some serious money....
Shortly thereafter, Tom accepted the suggestion of a fellow "lightening slinger" named Billy Adams to come East and apply for a permanent job as a telegrapher with the relatively prestigious Western Union Company in Boston. His willingness to travel over a thousand miles from home was at least partly influenced by the fact that he had been given a free rail ticket by the local street railway company for some repairs he had done for them. The most important factor, however, was the fact that Boston was considered to be "the hub of the scientific, educational, and cultural universe at this time...."
Throughout the mid-19th century, New England had many features that were analogous to today's Silicon Valley in California. However, instead of being a haven for the thousands of young "tekkies" - who communicate with each other in computerese and internet code of today - it was the home of scores of young telegraphers who anxiously stayed abreast of the emerging age of electricity and the telephone etc. by conversing with via Morse code.
During these latter days of the "age of the telegraph," Tom toiled 12 hours a day and six days a week for Western Union. Meanwhile, he continued "moonlighting" on his own projects and, within six months, had applied for and received his very first patent. A beautifully constructed electric vote-recording machine, this first "legitimate" invention he was to come up with turned out to be a disaster.
When he tried to market it to members of the Massachusetts Legislature, they thoroughly denigrated it, claiming "its speed in tallying votes would disrupt the delicate political status-quo." The specific issue was that - during times of stress - political groups regularly relied upon the brief delays that were provided by the process of manually counting votes to influence and hopefully change the opinions of their colleagues.... "This is exactly what we do not want" a seasoned politician scolded him, adding that "Your invention would not only destroy the only hope the minority would have in influencing legislation, it would deliver them over - bound hand and foot - to the majority."
Although Tom was very much disappointed by this turn of events, he immediately grasped the implications. Even though his remarkable invention allowed each voter to instantly cast his vote from his seat - exactly as it was supposed to do - he realized his idea was so far ahead of its time it was completely devoid of any immediate sales appeal.
Because of his continuing desperate need for money, Tom now made a critically significant adjustment in his, heretofore, relatively naive outlook on the world of business and marketing.... From now on, he vowed, he would "never waste time inventing things that people would not want to buy."
It is important to add here that it was during Tom's 17 month stint in Boston that he was first exposed to lectures at Boston Tech (which was founded in 1861 and became the Mass. Institute of Technology in 1916) and the ideas of several associates on the state-of-the-art of "multiplexing" telegraph signals. This theory and related experimental quests involved the transmission of electrical impulses at different frequencies over telegraph wires, producing horn-like simulations of the human voice and even crude images (the first internet?) via an instrument called the harmonic telegraph.
Not surprisingly, Alexander Graham Bell, who was also living in Boston at the time, was equally fascinated by this exciting new aspect of communication science. And no wonder. The principles surrounding it ultimately led to the invention of the first articulating telephone, the first fax machine, the first microphone, etc.
During this epiphany, Edison also became very well acquainted with Benjamin Bredding. Bredding's family obligations combined with his business naivte prevented him from persuing his dreams. The same age as Bell and Edison, this 21 year old genius would soon provide critically important assistance to Bell in perfecting long distance telephony, the first reciprocating telephone, and the magneto phone. A crack electrician, Bredding, with Watson's assistance, later set up the world's first two-way long distance telephone apparatus for his close friend Alexander Graham Bell, who at the time
People often say Edison was a genius
Bredding had originally worked for the well known promoter, George B. Stearns, who - with Bredding's help - had beaten everyone to the punch when he obtained the first patent for a duplex telegraph line. A device that exploits the fact that electromagnetism and the number and direction of wire windings associated with a connection between telegraph keys can influence the current that flows between them, and greatly facilitate two-way telegraphic communication, it powerfully intrigued Edison....
Stearns, finally sold the patent for this highly significant cost-cutting invention to Western Union for $750,000. Bredding (and Edison, of course) wound up getting absolutely nothing from the venture. In the meantime, however, Bredding provided his pal, Tom Edison, with his first detailed introduction and understanding of the state-of-the-art of the harmonograph and the multiplex transmitter....
Unlike Edison, Bredding was an extremely modest individual with little taste for aggrandizement and self promotion... The pathetic upshot of all this was that - while the caprice associated with the rough and tumble world of patenting inventions in the mid-19th century ultimately crushed Bredding's innately mild and somewhat naive spirit and his extraordinary potential - it merely spurred the tough-minded Edison on to not only improve the duplex transmitter, but to later patent the world's first quadruplex transmitter....
Deeply in debt and about to be fired by Western Union for "not concentrating on his primary responsibilities and doing too much moonlighting," Edison now borrowed $35.00 from his fellow telegrapher and "night owl" pal, Benjamin Bredding, to purchase a steamship ticket to the "more commercially oriented city of New York."