- NAME: Thomas Edison
- OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur, Inventor
- BIRTH DATE: February 11, 1847
- DEATH DATE: October 18, 1931
- Did You Know?: Thomas Edison became the first to project a motion picture in 1896, at Koster & Bial's Music Hall in New York City.
- EDUCATION: The Cooper Union
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Milan, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: West Orange, New Jersey
- Full Name: Thomas Alva Edison
- AKA: Thomas Edison
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Inventor Thomas Edison created such great innovations as the electric light bulb and the phonograph. A savvy businessman, he held more than a 1,000 patents for his inventions.
Thomas Edison - Inventor (4:13)
Inventor Thomas Edison, known during his time as "The Wizard of Menlo Park," developed numerous practical devices that changed the world such as the phonograph, the movie camera, and the light bulb.
The inventor of the light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture, Thomas Edison was granted 400 patents from 1879 to 1886. Though he changed technology forever, not all of his inventions were successful.
Henry Ford is credited with the creation of assembly line-a concept that yields the world's most affordable car.
Alexander Graham Bell used all his resources to get Americans to use his new invention, the telephone.
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However, due to his moral indignation toward violence, he specified that he would work only on defensive weapons, later noting, "I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill."
By the end of the 1920s Thomas Edison was in his 80s and he slowed down somewhat, but not before he applied for the last of his 1,093 U.S. patents, for an apparatus for holding objects during the electroplating process. Edison and his second wife, Mina,
spent part of their time at their winter retreat in Fort Myers, Florida, where his friendship with automobile tycoon Henry Ford flourished and he continued to work on several projects, ranging from electric trains to finding a domestic source for natural rubber.
Thomas Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931, in his home, "Glenmont," in West Orange, New Jersey. He was 84 years old. Many communities and corporations throughout the world dimmed their lights or briefly turned off their electrical power to commemorate his passing. Edison's career was the quintessential rags-to-riches success story that made him a folk hero in America. An uninhibited egoist, he could be a tyrant to employees and ruthless to competitors. Though he was a publicity seeker, he didn’t socialize well and often neglected his family. By the time he died he was one of the most well-known and respected Americans in the world. He had been at the forefront of America’s first technological revolution and set the stage for the modern electric world.
Edison, considered one of America's leading businessmen, is credited today for helping to build America's economy during the nation's vulnerable early years.
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America wasn't discovered, it was built. At the end of the Civil War, America was seen as a failing experiment in democracy; a nation fraying from the inside and at war with itself. Just 50 years later, the United States was the greatest superpower the world had ever seen. This landmark transition was due in no small part to a group of business-savvy, innovative young men: John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan and Thomas Edison. These men constructed a bold vision for a modern America and transformed the greatest industries of our time, including oil, rail, steel, shipping, automobiles and finance; they are unequivocally America's first captains of industry.
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Everyday life is constantly changing and improving thanks to the ingenious ideas of famous inventors past and present. What once seemed impossible is now possible, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s forward-thinking concepts for flying machines (airplanes), Benjamin Franklin’s useful inventions like bifocals and the lightning rod, and Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary “talking machine” (telephone).
The modern era has also produced life-changing advancements whether in science, medicine, the arts, digital media. Music-makers can thank Les Paul for his amazing guitars, while Elon Musk launched the world's first commercial space ship, Steve Jobs' Apple products have made technology beautiful, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page's Google has changed how the world searches for information. These and so many other famous inventors and their creations changed the course of human history. See all inventors.
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