Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison


Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. He was homeschooled for most of his life. He also had a hearing problem related to a bout of scarlet fever and untreated ear infections. He had a very individualistic learning style, which contributed to his interest in science and mathematics. Edison was also very interested in Newton's Laws. He worked as a telegraph operator for a long time, which helped him learn technological skills. Edison showed a lot of interest as an inventor. His first major invention was the phonograph, which allowed for the recording of someones voice. Edison became known as the "Wizard of Menlo Park", which is where he lived when he created many of his inventions.

Edison's important and well known invention, the incandesant light bulb, was invented in October of 1879. He created the Edison Electrical Light Company and patented a system of electrical distribution. There was a conflict known as the "War of Currents" over the benefits of AC currents vs. DC currents. Edison wanted to use DC current, but this idea was ultimately rejected, as AC current was able to travel further distances more efficiently.

After the light bulb, Edison patented a lot of other well known inventions, such as the motion picture camera. Edison died on October 18th, 1931. Over the course of his lifetime, he recieved over 1000 patents. These inventions helped to contribute to Americas growing industrial and technological expansion at the time.


Inventions

Incandescent Lightbulb
A Replica of Edison's Incandescent Bulb
A Replica of Edison's Incandescent Bulb


Edison didn't actually create the idea for an incandescent bulb, but he expanded on the design. The bulb used lower current electricity and a carbonized filament. This created a bulb that was able to produce quality, long-lasting light. In addition to the bulb, Edison had to come up with elements that were practical with the use of a lightbulb, such as the parallel circuit, an underground connector network, safety fuses, and sockets with on and off switches.



Phonograph
Edison's phonograph
Edison's phonograph

Edison created the phonograph while working as a telegraph operator. His phonograph used a needle and paper tape to play back recordings of a person's voice. The machine had needles for recording and playing back. Sound vibrations were indented onto a cylinder by the recording needle, which could be replayed.



Motion Picture Camera
Edison's motion picture camera
Edison's motion picture camera

Edison wasn't the first to develop a motion picture camera, but he came up with his own efficient version known as a "kinetograph". He also built the kinetoscope, where people could watch short, simple films for a penny.








Sources
http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bledison.htm

http://www.thomasedison.com/biography.html