Things You May Not Know about Thomas Edison

Elmira | 05 - 22 - 2024

Thomas Edison (1847–1931) was an American inventor and businessman commonly known as “King of Inventors.” He received about 1093 patents in his name. He tremendously focused on practical knowledge and employed his creativity beyond the standards of time. His inventions have changed the world and improved the lives of many. Let’s hop on to the blog to know everything about this brainiac.

Early Life of Edison


  • On February 11, 1847, Thomas Edison was born in the US city of Ohio.
  • Thomas Alva Edison was the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison Jr. and Nancy Matthews.
  • Edison’s mother stopped him from school as he was a poor student and mocked by the name “addled”. 
  • At a young age, he was fascinated with technology and spent hours working on experiments at home 
  • He suffered from hearing loss at the age of twelve due to a middle ear infection from childhood scarlet fever.
  • He believed that his hearing loss allowed him to concentrate on his work avoiding any distractions.

Thomas Edison’s Career


What was Thomas Edison commonly known as?
  • A. King of Science
  • B. King of Technology
  • C. King of Inventors
  • D. King of Electricity
  • Thomas Edison started his career as a news butcher when he was 13.
  • In 1862, when Edison was 15 years old, he saved three-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from colliding with a train. Jimmie’s father, Mount Clemens station agent J. U. MacKenzie, rewarded him for that by training Edison how to operate a telegraph. Edison’s first work in telegraphy was with the Grand Trunk Railway at Stratford Junction, Ontario.
  • He studied qualitative analysis and conducted chemical experiments until he got fired from his job following the blame for almost causing two trains to collide.
  • In 1866, when Thomas Edison was 19 years old he worked at the Associated Press bureau news wire and in 1867 Edison was fired from the job as he accidentally split sulphuric acid on the floor which ran below his boss’s desk during his experiment with lead-acid batteries.
  • In 1869, Edison and Pope (fellow telegrapher) founded their own company where they worked as electrical engineers and inventors. 
  • In 1876 Edison established the Menlo Park laboratory where he tried his experiments on the telephone, phonograph, electric railway, iron ore separator, electric lighting, etc.
  • In 1877 Edison invented the phonograph. Despite its low sound quality and less often than that recorded music this invention made Edison a celebrity.
  • In 1879 with the assistance of William Joseph Hammer, a consulting electrical engineer Edison invented the first high-resistance, incandescent electric bulb. After these two inventions, the public called him “The Wizard of Menlo Park”.
  • Thomas Edison started developing microphones in 1876, and finally in 1886 he created the Bell Telephone microphone, which operated more effectively by roasting carbon. 
  • The Edison Illuminating Company was founded and patented for electricity distribution during the 1880s.
  • As Edison developed the direct current for power distribution he received heavy competition from the companies installing Alternating current systems. Though he proved the danger of alternating current in front of the chairman of the Death Penalty Commission and members of the press, the alternating current system was adopted as the standard method of transmitting electricity due to its advantages. This period was considered a War of Currents.

Other Inventions & Projects of Thomas Edison

  • The first fluoroscope (1896) – a machine that used X-rays to take radiographs. 
  • Tasimeter (1878) – To measure the heat from the solar corona during the Solar eclipse,
  • Quadruplex (1874) – the first electricity-based broadcast system.
  • Rechargeable nickel-iron battery (1901) and founded the Edison Storage Battery Company.
  • Phenol production (1914) from the raw material benzene and aspirin.
  • Spirit Phone (1920) – a device to communicate with the dead.

Thomas Edison’s Failures

  1. Vote Recorder


Thomas Edison invented the electrographic vote recorder in 1869. Though it gave accurate and instant results, the government refused to purchase the device as it may affect the trading and manipulation of politicians.

  1. Electric Pen


In 1876 Edison invented the electric pen to save time in completing tasks. The pen works by punching tiny holes through the paper’s surface. It consists of a small electric motor and a battery. Though it worked fantastic due to its noise, weight, and battery maintenance it doesn’t go with the market. This electric pen is considered the predecessor of modern tattoo needles.

  1. The Tinfoil Phonograph


In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the tinfoil phonograph which converts sound waves into electromagnetic waves, while the process is reversed it plays the sound back. He first tested the device with the rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb. This project failed as the tinfoil sheet was easily damaged and the device can be used only once or twice.

  1. The Talking Doll


In 1887, Edison invented a talking doll by placing a smaller version of his phonograph into the doll. But customers didn’t like the talking doll as it was too fragile and the voice was more terrific.

  1. Ore mills and separators


In the late 1870s, Thomas Edison got interested in mining, He developed the process with rollers, crushers, and three giant magnets that pull the iron ore from the dust. But it was not successful as Edison’s investors could not cover its expenses.

  1. The Edison Home Service Club


In the 1900s, the Edison Home Service Club was the more affordable phonograph. His main motto was to entertain customers by listening to music with his home service club within the comforts of their own homes. In 1922, he even offered access to customers through a subscription service. However, it failed due to financial difficulties and intense competition from other companies offering similar services.

  1. Home Projecting Kinetoscope


In 1912, Thomas Edison developed the motion picture projector called Kinetoscope. Edison Film Studio made nearly 1200 films using this Kinetoscope, out of which the majority were short films. This project failed as people favored long-feature films over educational films and shorts.

Awards Received by Thomas Edison


  • An honorary PhD from Union College in 1878.
  • The distinction of an Officer of the Legion of Honour on November 10, 1881, Chevalier in the Legion in 1879, and a Commander in 1889.
  • Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1890. 
  • The Edward Longstreth Medal of The Franklin Institute in 1899.
  • Honorable Consulting Engineer at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s Fair in 1904.
  • The American Association of Engineering Societies John Fritz Medal in 1908.
  • The Franklin Medal by The Franklin Institute for Discoveries in 1915.
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal in 1920.
  • The Edison Medal in 1923.
  • Membership in the National Academy of Sciences and Elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1927.
  • The Congressional Gold Medal in 1928.
  • Technical Grammy Award in 2010.
  • Named a Great Floridian by the Florida Governor and Cabinet in 2011.

Famous Thomas Edison Quotes


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