On February 11, 1847, one of the greatest inventors in history was born in Milan, Ohio. His name is Thomas Alva Edison. Edison died on October 18, 1931 in West Orange, New Jersey, but not before he registered over 1,000 patents. Edison's inventions continue to have an important effect on people's lives today. His very first invention was the electric vote recorder.
Thomas Edison was also a business entrepreneur starting several companies throughout his life. Many of his inventions were group efforts between himself and the workers in his invention laboratory where they assisted him in developing, building, and testing the inventions. The laboratory was located in Menlo Park, New Jersey. One of the biggest corporations Edison began is still in existence today, named General Electric or GE.
Even though Edison became a famous inventor, growing up as a child he did not do well in school and ended up being home-schooled by his mother. However, at age 10 he did set up his first lab in his parent's basement. He entertained himself by taking things apart and putting them back together again to see how they worked. As a teenager he also earned an income selling vegetables, candy, and newspapers on trains.
While working on the train an incident occurred that set him on the path to becoming an inventor. He saved a child from a runaway train, and the child's father was so grateful he trained the 15-year-old Edison to be a telegraph operator, sending and receiving messages using Morse code. During his time as a telegraph operator he became interested in communications which became the focus of many of his inventions.
Edison is best known for many inventions including two of his most popular, the phonograph and the practical light bulb. The phonograph was his first major invention and brought fame to Edison. The phonograph was able to record and playback sound. The first words recorded by Edison were the lyrics to the song Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Edison did not invent the first electric light, but he created the first light bulb that could be used in homes. He also invented products related to the light bulb for use in the home, which included safety fuses and on/off switches for light sockets. He also invented the power grid system for generating electricity and delivering it to homes and businesses through a network of wires.
Another popular invention of Edison's was the motion picture. He spent many hours on and worked hard in producing the motion picture camera which helped others move toward the progress of practical movies. In addition, he contributed to x-ray technology, storage batteries, and invented the first talking doll.
Edison's personal life included a marriage to Mary Stillwell, and when she died he remarried Mina Miller. Edison had five children in all, and two of them had the nicknames Dot and Dash, named after Morse Code symbols.
In summary, Thomas Edison registered 1,093 patents over his lifetime and those inventions continue to influence the way people live today, including the phonograph, light bulb and the motion picture camera leading to the movies many people enjoy today.
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