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Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 - October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman who developed many devices which greatly influenced life around the world. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
Some of his inventions were not completely original but amounted to improvements of earlier inventions. Also, many of the inventions attributed to him were actually created by one or more of the numerous employees working under his direction. Nevertheless, Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,097 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. (1804-1896) (born in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia, Canada) and the former Nancy Matthews Elliott (1810-1871). His family was of Dutch origin.
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. He 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 then home schooled him. Much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker's School of Natural Philosophy.
Edison lost much of his hearing at the age of twelve. The cause of Edison's deafness has been the subject of many different theories. While some historians state his hearing loss may have been the result of a childhood bout of smallpox, according to Edison it was because he was pulled up to a train car by his ears.
Edison's family was forced to move to Port Huron, Michigan when the railroad bypassed Milan, but his life there was bittersweet. He sold candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit.
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 J.U. MacKenzie of Mount Clemens, Michigan, was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph operator. After three months of training, Edison mastered the skill and was hired at a Western Union telegraph office. Edison's deafness allegedly aided him as it blocked out noises and prevented Edison from hearing the telegrapher sitting next to him. One of his mentors during those early years was a fellow telegrapher andinventor named Franklin Leonard Pope, who allowed the impoverished youth to live and work in the basement of his Elizabeth, New Jersey home.
Some of his earliest inventions related to telegraphy, including a stock ticker. Edison's first patent, for the electric vote recorder, U. S. Patent 90,646, was granted on 1 June 1869.
address work through the 1920s.
On December 25, 1871, Edison married 16 year old Mary Stilwell, whom he had met two months earlier. They had three children,
" Marion "Dot" Estelle Edison (1873-1965)
" Thomas "Dash" Alva Edison, Jr (1876-1935)
" William Leslie Edison (1878-1935)
Mary Edison died on August 9 1884.
On February 24, 1886, at the age of thirty-nine, Edison married 19-year-old Mina Miller in Akron, Ohio. They also had three children:
" Madeleine Edison (1888-1979)
" Charles Edison (1890-1969), who took over the company upon his father's death and who later was elected Governor of New Jersey
" Theodore Edison (1898-1992).
Mina outlived Thomas Edison, dying on August 24, 1947.
Carbon telephone transmitter
In 1877 and 1878 Edison invented and developed the carbon microphone used in all telephones along with the Bell receiver until the 1980s. After protracted patent litigation, a federal court ruled in 1892 that Edison and not Emile Berliner was the inventor of the carbon microphone. (Josephson, p146). The carbon microphone was also used in radio broadcasting and public
" Edison was a strong supporter of Montessori schools in the United States.
" Edison was so fascinated by Morse Code that he taught it to his girlfriend Mary Stilwell, proposed marriage to her in the code, and nicknamed their first two children "Dot" and "Dash".
" Edison's company was considerably late in the business of releasing music on phonographs. Reportedly, Edison considered his invention to be limited to a business dictation machine, and the concept of pre-recorded music never crossed his mind.
" At the turn of the last century, Edison saw modern medicine at the crossroads. In 1902 he wrote of Medicine being "played out" which prompted his oft repeated quote: "The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease." he continued in that vein: "There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of diseases as now, and all their discoveries are tending to the simple truth - that you can't improve on nature." for full quote see wikiquote