Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor, who invented many things. Most people think he invented the electric light bulb, but he really only improved it, to make it last long enough to help people see in the dark.
Edison holds the record for the most number of patents: 1093.
Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. When Edison was 7, he moved with his family to Port Huron, Michigan. Edison started school late, because of an illness. Three months later, Edison was removed from school, because he could not pay attention to his teacher. His mother, who was a teacher in Canada, taught Edison at home. Edison’s mother helped him become motivated and he was a good student with her.
When Edison was 14, he contracted scarlet fever. The effect of the fever, as well as getting picked up by the ears by a train conductor, caused Edison to become completely deaf in his left ear, and 80 percent deaf in the other. He learned Morse code and the use of the telegraph, and began a job as a “brass pounder” (telegraph operator). At age 16, Edison came up with his first invention, called an “automatic repeater.” It sent telegraph signals between unmanned stations, allowing almost anyone to easily and precisely translate code at his own speed and convenience.
In 1868 Edison moved East and began to work for the Western Union Company in Boston, Massachusetts as a telegraph operator. He worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, and continued to “moonlight” (work until late at night) on his own projects. Within six months, he had applied for and received his first patent for an “electric vote-recording machine”. It made the voting process faster.
Then, Edison moved to New York, New York and began to work for a company fixing their machines. At night, he continued to work on his projects. At age 29, Edison began working on the carbon transmitter, which made the sound from Alexander Graham Bell‘s new telephone invention louder. In 1877, Edison invented the phonograph, the first machine that could record and play sound. That invention made him internationally famous.
Thomas Edison is most famous for inventing the light bulb, but he really didn’t invent it. He just made a 50-year old idea better. In 1879, Edison made a light bulb that lasted longer. Because of this, light bulbs became more popular and are now in almost every building in the world.