Not all of the Inventors had the fortune to be famous. When it comes to Thomas Alva Edison, the American inventor and a businessman had plenty of luck. Along with the first viable electric bulb invention, 1093 patents are in front of his name. Along with the inventing role, he is also credited to be the builder of the American economy during the Industrial Revolution.
Thomas Edison Childhood
Thomas Alva Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, was born in Ohio on February 11, 1847. Nancy Edison brought him into this world as the seventh one for her family. His father was a political activist in Canada. But unfortunately, his father didn’t have an interest either in Edison or his family. Edison’s mother worked as a school teacher. She had unconditional love for Edison.
Young Thomas faced several challenges at his earliest age. First, he had to go through Scarlet Fever. This made hearing difficulties throughout his life. Making the second affected factor for Edison, his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, from Ohio.
Ending The School Life
At the age of seven, had to change living was kind of an unfair thing for a kid. Edison’s didn’t have a pleasant school experience at the new location. After 12 weeks of schooling, Thoma’s teacher sent a letter to his mother. Thomas was so curious about this letter. So mother read it to him.
“ Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have good enough teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.”
Thomas was so happy about the letter. But the reality is his mother hides the original content from his child. After the mother died, Thomas found the original letter “Your son is mentally deficient. We cannot let him attend our school anymore. He is expelled.”
“Thomas A. Edison was a mentally deficient child whose mother turned him into the genius of the Century”Thomas A Edison Diary
Although he showed weakness in traditional education he found a self path to find knowledge. He read the newspapers and books to feed more knowledge to his mind.
At the age of 12, Thomas decided to sell newspapers on the Grand Trunk Railroad. At the same age, he used to publish his own small newspaper, Grand Trunk Gerald. His impressive articles made his readers nervous. This also laid the first foundation for the Thomas A. Edison business life.
Edison used to sell newspapers and candies in the Grand Trunk Railway. Mount Clemens station is one of the usual stops in his journey. One day at the Clemens station, Edison noticed a child playing on the track, and a freight train speedily approached the child. Without thinking twice, he immediately jumped into the track, grabbed the child, and moved away from the track without harming anyone. When he did this action, he was only a 15-year boy. The son’s father was the James U. Mackenzie station master at Mount Clemens. Thanks to his brave action and saving his child Mackenzie offered a telegraph job for Edison. He accepted it. This was a turning point in his life.
Under Mackenzie, Edison learned telegraph systems from scratch. He starts his full-time carrier as a telegrapher at the Western Union Telegraph company. This career installed in him new love of electrical technology and experiments.
Edison’s First Patent
He got his first patent in 1868 for creating the electrical vote recorder machine for the Massachusetts State Legislature. After this, he moved to New York City as an inventor. Using his skills as a telegraph operator in 1874 Edison build a Quadruplex telegraph system. This system allows sending four messages over a wire at the same time. He sold this system rights to $215,000 in today’s money to the Western Union Telegraph Company. Using the money Edison started to do his experiments at a new place in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
In 1877 Edison developed a carbon transmitter that could enhance the volume of the telephone. It was one of his earliest inventions that were able to grab the attention of the world. The Phonograph was invented in the same year by Edison, which made a revolutionary impact on world entertainment.
World First Light Bulb
The signature invention of Thomas Alva Edison was the electric bulb which could relieve the gaslight from the lighting purpose. In 1879 Edison and his research team were working on finding a safe way to produce light. Before Edison, there are many more scientists, and inventors try to do that. But they all were failed. It was not an easy thing to do dealing with the electricity at that time. It’s not safe like today.
When developing the electric bulb Edison’s biggest problem was finding the last long material for the electric bulb filament. First, he used platinum as a material for the filament. But it was too much costly. Many customers couldn’t afford it. After thousands of experiments, in October 1879, he found the carbonized charred bamboo fibers provide needed long resistance. Carbonized bamboo bulb filaments last long 1200 hours. He sent a team to Japan to get supplies for mass bulb production.
In 1878, Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company. The Columbia steamship was the first commercial application for Edison’s incandescent electric light bulb in 1880. Later Edison made a huge profit from the electric bulb business. Using his money Thomas started to builds his own electric empire in New York City.
He Edison was strong enough to produce a company called Edison Electric Light Company for the research and the development of the electric bulb. The platinum filament was used as the filament for his bulb, which was excessively expensive. Carbonized bamboo was used as a replacement for the expensive filament. Along with the vacuum pump and the direct current, Edison was made easy.
Edison Vs Tesla Greatest Enemies
It is usual to have rivals in the same field. When it comes to Thomas Alva Edison, it was from his former employee, Nikola Tesla. Tesla was an engineering visionary who had the academic knowledge that Edison did not get from school. In 1885, both went on different ways, and they got popular due to the War of the Currents.
When Tesla came to America, he only had 4 cents and a bunch of clothes. He got his first job at Edison’s company. In this time period, Edison just only finished his electric bulb. But do a good business with the new invention he needed a system for delivering the current to streets.
He chose the DC power as the ideal solution for that. Edison starts to build small DC power generator plants in the city blocks to lighten the houses and streets. But these generators ran into serious problems and broke down. So Edison made a challenge to his new employee Nikola Tesla; if he could fix DC generators, Edison promises him to offer a 50 000$ bonus. Tesla fixed the generators in few months and requested the bonus. But Thomas replied with an unexpected answer.
I don’t think you understand American sense of humor. That’s 50 000 is just a little joke.
War Of The Current
Tesla quit the job with the pain. But he didn’t stop from there. He invented an alternative current against Edison’s direct current. Direct current (DC) able to transmit only a few miles but alternative current (AC) didn’t have a limit. It was able to transmit hundreds of miles without losing the voltage. So only one power big power plant enough to power more than a state. This gave a big advantage to Tesla.
But Tesla is a small inventor at that time. He is nothing compared to Edison’s power. However luckily one wealthy investor was interested in the AC current. He is George Westinghouse.
Tesla and Edison start the war of the current. Both knew the winner got the power of lighting the world. Tesla AC current won the battle by lighting up the 1893 Chicago World Fair. All over America and overseas investors interested in alternating current. This is the biggest fail in Edison’s life and Nikolo Tesla became his biggest enemy. Still, the world uses Tesla’s AC theories to bring electricity to our homes.
Edison repeatedly tried to show that Tesla’s AC current was deadly to humans. He demonstrated that by electrocuting dogs and other innocent animals. The 1903 circus elephant Topsy was such an animal that had to sacrifice its life for the cruelty of the Edison. However, Edison couldn’t stop Tesla.
After inventing the phonograph Edison started to play a big role in entertainment. Edison wanted to build something to do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear.
Edison commissioned his young assistant William Dickson to do this task for him. In 1891 Dickson and Edison invented two devices called Kintograph and Kinetoscope. Kintograph is the world’s first commercially used motion picture camera and Kinetoscope is a single viewer motion picture exhibition device built to see kinematograph recorded movies. Edison’s got the patent for both devices. With these two devices, he starts the American first movie production company. But Kinetograph and Kinetoscope had disadvantages.
Kinetograph is required sunlight to record movies, and it couldn’t move. Because of these reasons, it can only take shots from one angle. Other hand Edison wants to match the phonograph sound with the Kinetoscope motion pictures. But they unable to combine these two. When the 1900 Europeans invented better cameras and screen projectors. To survive in the rising movie industry, he collaborated with other movie producers and movie industry inventors. This collaboration creates the world-known Hollywood.
Henry Ford, President of Ford motors, and Thomas Alva Edison are good friends. Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry with his Model T car. This car was able to retire the early stage electric cars from the roads. Ford Henry Ford also needed to build an economical electric car under the Ford name. To achieve his ambition he requested help from Edison. In this period Edison also did experiments in electric batteries at Edison Storage Company. So Edison accepts his proposal and starts research to build a newer electric car. This became famous news in the business world.
Edison and Henry Ford made statements to the newspapers that they had the technology to build an economical electric car. But this car never came into the market. Rumours says Edison’s research lab burnt out with his electric car and blueprints. But some others say Oil money got the Edison and the Ford.
However, Edison Storage Battery Company did a lot of works on the battery improvements. In 1909 they invented a rechargeable nickel alkaline battery. This battery was inexpensive compared to the lead-acid batteries at that time use. Today’s lithium batteries use some of the same principles this alkaline battery had.
Edison’s War Duty for WWI
World War I was crucial for not only Edison but for the entire United States population. Therefore, the US government wanted Edison’s consultation for the naval tasks. Thomas Alva Edison offered the chairmanship of the US naval consulting board by the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. In there, he stated some of the weaponry placement techniques that could get higher performance than they were.
When it comes to his known work in the military, Edison created a device that could identify the submarines in the ocean before radar technology. However, he stated he was not satisfied with what he had achieved with the violence. Edison informed the naval consultation bureau that he would only provide his contribution only for defensive purposes. He had stated, “I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill.”
In 1917 US entered the war. Since then Edison works 18 months full time in naval research. US Navy reserved the USS Sachem yacht for Edison and his team’s research. They involved forty-eight different naval projects at this time.
“Science is going to make war a terrible thing –too terrible to contemplate. Pretty soon we can be mowing down men by the thousands or even millions almost by pressing a button.”Thomas A. Edison
Edison’s Last Years
In 1920, Edison was spending his 80s in a surrounding where he had become a wealthy and a reputed citizen in the world. However, although his health situation decline he provided his knowledge for inventing Electric trains, alternatives for rubber, and many more inventions.
Thomas Alva Edison dies on October 18, 1931, at the age of 84, in West Orange New Jersy House. The world responded to his death by dimming the lights outdoors as well as indoors. Although the bulb was the remembered work for his work, Edison had contributed to the world with 1,093 U.S. patents and more than thousands of unfinished patents that he either gave up or abandoned. Some of his theories went in favor of future scientists who could bring the world a better place.
But, his recognized contribution to the world was his unique determination, skill improvement, and management of resources. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” was a theme for thousands of his followers. Even at present, students murmur his quotes. The gain of his first patent at the age of 21 would be a great thing for a beginning investor. Edison claimed the first patent at the age of 21 for an Electrographic Vote-Recorder. His last patent was for an apparatus for holding objects when the electroplating takes place. Although most of his colleagues died as typical citizens in the country, Edison put his name as one of the wealthiest men on the planet. That is the best example of a great inventor with superb financial management skills. It is said that Thomas Alva Edison had $200 Million net worth when he died as well.