Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most well-known and prolific innovators of all time, had a profound impact on the development of modern society through his innovations, which included the incandescent lamp, the phonograph, the feature film camera, and advancements in the telephone and the telegraph.
He was granted a staggering 1,093 patents in his 84 years of life. Edison was not only an innovator, but also a great producer and businessman who sold his creations to the general public.
Edison was always engaged in legal fights over number of applications and corporations, and his life was filled with a dizzying array of commercial partnerships, joint ventures, and corporations.
What follows is merely a thumbnail description of a life that is both incredibly busy and incredibly complex, with many different initiatives going on at once. Those curious about the specifics of his life and various business endeavours can find several excellent biographies about him in their local libraries.
Edison was born into Canadian refugees Sam and Nancy around Feb 11, 1847, in Milano, Ohio. Nancy was a schoolteacher.
Nancy Elliott, Edison’s mother, was a New York native whose family eventually settled in Vienna, Ontario, where she met and married Edison’s father, Sam Edison, Jr. While Sam was a descendent of British loyalist who had fled to Canada after the American Revolution.
He was compelled to flee to a United States in the 1830s after getting involved in an attempted insurrection in Ontario.
As early as 1839, they established a new life in the Buckeye State. In 1854, Sam and his family uprooted to pursue new opportunities in the logging industry in Port Huron, Michigan.
Training And Entry-Level Employment
In his early years, Edison went by the nickname “Al.” He was the seventh of seven children; four of his siblings survived to adulthood; and his older siblings were all teenagers when he was born.
Edison had a history of poor health as a child and performed poorly in school. After a teacher labelled Edison “brained,” or slow, Edison’s angry mother pulled him from school and started tutoring him at home.
Many years after his initial discovery, Edison remarked, “It was my mother who shaped me into who I am today. She was honest and confident in me, and it made me feel like my life had purpose and that I couldn’t let her down.” He always had a keen interest in machines and chemistry experiments.
In 1859, when he was just 12 years old, Edison started working as a newspaper and candy vendor on the Grand Circuit Railroad from New York to Detroit.
He opened a newspaper and a fruit stand in Port Huron and figured out how to get free or cheap trade and rail transportation. His first newspaper, the “Great Trunk Herald,” was the first to be printed aboard a train.
And he did all of his scientific experiments in the baggage car. He had to abandon his on-board research because of a fire that started by mistake.
Inspiration And A Passion For Creating New Things
Moving to Boston in 1868, Edison took a job at the Money Gram office and continued his ingenious work. In January of 1869, Edison quit his employment to focus on his inventions full time.
His first patented creation was an electronic voting machine in June 1869. After seeing how reluctant politicians were to use the device, he resolved not to waste his time manufacturing useless products in the future.
It was in the beginning of 1869 that Edison settled in New York City. Frank L. Pope, a friend of Edison’s, let him stay in the office of Daniel Laws’ Gold Marker Company. Edison was employed to repair and upgrade the printing equipment after he fixed a faulty machine there.
Next, Edison engaged in a number of telegraph-related ventures and business arrangements. It was in October of 1869 that Edison formed the company that would become known as Pope, Edison & Co. with Benjamin L. Pope & James Ashley.
They presented themselves to the public as mechanical engineers and makers of electrical equipment. Edison’s contributions to the telegraph led to multiple patents. Together with the Gold as well as Stock Telegraph Co., the partnership merged in 1870.
The American Telecommunications Company
Furthermore, Edison and William Unger founded the Newark Telegraph Company in Newark, New Jersey to produce stock printers. In order to hasten the creation of an automatic telegraph, he established American Telegraph Works in the fall of that year.
He started building Western Union’s multiplex telegraphic system in 1874, eventually creating a quadruplex telegraph that could deliver two messages in opposite directions at once.
Court battles ensued after Edison sold the quadruplex patent to Atlantic & Ocean Telegraph Co., but Western Union ultimately prevailed. Among his many telegraph innovations, he created the electric pencil in 1875.
Families And Wedlock
Many of shifts occurred in his private life at this time, too. After his mother passed away in 1871, Edison wed Mary Stilwell, a former employee and close friend, on Christmas Day. Despite their affection for one another.
Still, in February 1873, they welcomed daughter Marion into the world, and a year later, in January 1876, they welcomed son Thomas, Jr. They were given the telegraphic-inspired nicknames “Dot” and “Dash” by Edison. In October of 1878, William Leslie joined the family as their third child.
Mary passed away in 1884, possibly as a result of cancer or perhaps the morphine used to treat it. Mina Miller, the granddaughter of Ohio entrepreneur Lewis Miller, who established the Chautauqua Institution, became Edison’s second wife.
They tied the knot on Valentine’s Day, 1886, and raised three children: Madeleine (1888), Charles (1890), and Teddy Miller Edison (1892).
From the time he entered a state of unconsciousness on October 14, 1931, his health had been steadily deteriorating for the previous two years. He passed away at his East Orange, New Jersey mansion on October 18th, 1931.