Thomas Edison Biography

Thomas Edison (b.1847-d.1931) is the most prolific and important practical inventor of our time. Edison made possible both the movie and music industry and our 24 hour society. Edison was the founder of General Electric and invented both video AND audio recording. Edison also created the first light bulb among thousands of other inventions and improvements.


Thomas Edison grew up in Port Huron Michigan. He was home schooled by his mother - a former school teacher - after his class teacher called him "addled". He spent just 3 months in formal education ever. Edison later said "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."

At age 12, Thomas Edison began working selling newspapers and candy on trains. It was here, at 15, that Edison got his big break. He rescued a three year old boy from being run over by a rolling box car on the tracks. Turns out, the boys father was the station manager. In gratitude to Edison the station manager trained Edison how to use the telegraph. This lucky stroke led Edison into work as a traveling telegraph operator and then onto to experimenting with telegraph machines much like teens hacking computers today.

At 21 Edison rented space in a machine shop and embarked on a career as an inventor. His earliest inventions were related to telegraphy and included a stock ticker and electric vote recorder. The electric vote recorder was Edison's first patent... and a commercial failure. But one of Thomas Edison's enduring traits was determination. In discovering the light bulb for instance, he tried 10,000 trials before hitting on a workable solution. He went on to have more success than other inventor before him or since.

By 29 years of age, Thomas Edison had acquired enough success selling inventions related to electronics to Western Union that he was able to found the world's first invention factory called Menlo Park. Here he employed machinists, electricians and other skilled men. He was known to be such a hard worker that he would regularly sleep 4-5 hours a night and take naps during the day when exhausted. His aim was to produce a new substantial invention every 6 months. It was here that sound recording and video recording was invented amongst a myriad of other useful inventions.

Thomas Edison is undoubtedly the worlds greatest inventor ever. And a huge benefactor to mankind. So just what was Edison's Study Cram secret? Edison was a voracious reader and self directed learner. And in his own words he summarized his success: "Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration." So get out your books and get sweaty.

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Article Last Updated: August 31 2014
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