Thomas Edison’s Birthday.

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WPCNR MILESTONES. February 11, 2014: 

Was Thomas Edison America’s greatest entrepreneur?

He was born today in Milan Ohio in 1847, the seventh child. He was homeschooled by his mother, Nancy Matthews Elliot. His father was Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr.

Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio.  His parents were Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. and Nancy Matthews Elliott. Thomas was their seventh child. He started school late due to a childhood illness and was thrown out of school three months after he started. Teachers said his mind wandered, and his teacher called him “addled.”

His mother home-schooled him and taught him to read and encouraged him to experiment.

He was partially deaf and his first job was as a telegraph operator after he saved the child of a railroad official from being hit by a train. J.U. Mackenzie of Mount Clemens, Michigan the father of the child made Edison an apprentice and taught him to operate a telegraph.

Edison drifted to various railroad towns as a telegrapher, eventually coming to the metropolitan area where he created his first invention, an improved stock ticker, for which he was paid $40,000

Greatest inventions

His inventions include:

  • Electrographic vote recorder, which was Edison’s first patent, through a “yes” and “no” switch
  • Simplified telegraph, which didn’t require manually tapping out the message at the receiving end
  • Faster electric telegraph, which had faster signal speeds than earlier models
  • Stencil pen, which is the predecessor to tattoo pens
  • Phonograph, which recorded and reproduced audible sounds using metallic foil on a cylinder
  • Carbon transmitter, which became the basis of telephone transmitters for more than a century
  • Practical electric lamp, as Edison’s carbon filament light bulb was the first commercially viable electric light. Previous versions weren’t as durable, and used more expensive materials, such as platinum
  • Electric lighting system, which was designed to maintain the same amount of electricity throughout the device
  • Motor that regulates electricity, controlling the supply of electricity between devices such as lamps
  • Fruit preserver, sucking oxygen out of glass jars, producing vacuum-sealed jars of fruit
  • Electro magnetic brake, which was designed to stop vehicles on a railroad
  • Incandescent chandelier, which is the grouping of several incandescent lamps to create the candelier
  • Turn table for electric railway, which is an electric current that ran through the rails to reduce the chances of a short circuit
  • Ore separator, which separates magnetic and non-magnetic materials
  • Kinetographic camera, which showed successive photos in a rapid speed so as to make them appear to be moving
  • Rock crusher, using 2 hard rollers to crush rocks
  • Alkaline battery, which produced an longer-lasting battery
  • Fluorescent electric lamp, which used tungsten of calcium and strontium
  • Improved automobile, designing an automobile whose wheels were better aligned with the car


On December 25, 1871, he married Mary Stilwell, and they had three children, Marion Estelle Edison, Thomas Alva Edison, Jr., and William Leslie Edison. His wife Mary died in 1884. On February 24, 1886, he married 19 year old Mina Miller. They had an additional three children, Madeleine Edison, Charles Edison (who took over the company upon his father’s death) and Theodore Edison.

Edison, who made the famous quote, “genius is 99% perspiration; 1% inspiration” eventually invented the light bulb:

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