Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

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Thomas Edison was born Febuary 11, 1847 in Milan Ohio. He was the youngest of seven siblings, and did not learn to talk until he was nearly four. At the age of seven Edison spent three months in school until his mother took him out of school and home schooled him. When Tom turned twelve the young entrepreneur became a railroad newspaper boy. He would ride rail cars selling candy, newspapers, fruits, and vegetables.

Soon after Edison began working on the railroads he became practically deaf. There are several theories on what happened to make the inventor deaf one of the widest spread beliefs is that Edison lost his hearing when a conductor boxed his ears after Edison accidentally set fire to a train car. Edison said that he lost his hearing when a brakeman caught Edison by his ears to stop Edison from falling off the train. Regardless of what happened Edison couldn't hear out of his left ear and was about eighty percent deaf in his right ear.

One day before getting on a train fourteen year old Edison noticed a todler with his back turned to an oncoming train. Tom reacted quickly throwing himself and the toddler off the tracks in the nick of time. The three year olds dad trained Edison to operate a telagraph machine as a reward. By the age of sixteen Edison had mastered this skill and left home. He moved to Boston, however a year and a half after he started working there he was forced to quit because his employer accused him of "not concentrating on his primary responsibilities, and doing to much moonlighting." Edison was moved to New York where he arrived practically broke.

Three weeks after arriving in New York Edison had a job that paid much better than his Boston employer. The story goes that Edison who was broke and on the verge of starving came across a panicing broker. The broker was freaking out because an important stock ticker had broken. Edison tinkering paid off when he quickly fixed the ticker. The broker hired Edison on the spot as the company's repair man for $300.00 a month a very impresive amount in 1869.

A year later Edison became a rich man when a company paid $40,000 for an improved stock ticker. Edison had expected no more than $5,000. After getting his first check for that much money Edison was at a loss for what to do.

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It is said that Edison cashed the check and stayed up the entire night counting the money over and over. The next day a friend talked Edison into putting the money into a bank. Nearly all biographers agree that Edison was not a very good business man. Most think Edison would agree with them since he eventually hired professional bussiness men to negotiate the sales of his patents.

With the money gained from the stock ticker invention Edison started his workshop, Menlo Park. In 1878 Edison and his workers invented the Phonograph, a year and a half later they had invented the lightbulb. After inventing the light bulb Edison continued to invent, but could never outdo himself. Before his death in 1931 he had amassed 1,093 patents.

A Lightbulb works by putting putting electric current through a filament the filament then heats up and glows causing light. The tricky part is finding a filament that doesn't burn out. To do that the filament is placed in a vacuum. Until 1879 such a filament hadn't been found, then Edison and his workers at Menlo Park refined the lighbulb.

Thomas Edison is often credited with inventing the light bulb what he actually did was improve the light bulb. Edison improved the light bulb so much that he is considered to have invented it. He found a new filament and invented sockets with on off switch. Edison also made the lightbulb much more durable and made the vacum inside the bulb. He even made a new generator which was able to keep the voltage more constant than any other generator that had been made up until that point.


# Vanderbilt, Byron. Thomas Edison, Chemist. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 1971
# Israel, Paul. Edison A Life of Invention. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998
# Clark, Ronald. Edison the Man Who Made the Future. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977
# Newman, David. , 2007
# Beals, Gerald. , 1999
# About Inventors.
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