Thomas Alva Edison
A man who was never any where near our district but one who nevertheless had great impact on all our lives was a man named Thomas Alva Edison. Edison was born in Milan, Ohio on February 11 1847. He died on October 18 1931. He was without a doubt the world's greatest inventor. At the time of his death he was credited with 1099 inventions. He also had an additional 3000 patents bearing his name. It is claimed that commerce owes seven trillion dollars a year to enterprises created by Thomas Edison.
Probably Edison's greatest invention was the incandescent electric light bulb. He also invented the Edison cylinder phonograph, the dicta phone, the storage battery the electric vote recorder, the multiplex telegraph, the ticker tape printer, the carbon telephone transmitter, the motion picture camera and projector, as well as hundreds of other inventions.
Edison received much of his education at home. He was taught by his mother, who had been a school teacher. During his early years, he was a very curious young man. He was always asking questions and he was never satisfied until he came up with the right answers.
Thomas Edison left home when he was 13. His first job was selling newspapers and confectionery on a train that travelled between Port Huron and Detroit, Michigan. He was well liked by the conductor of the train and was allowed to set up a small laboratory in an express car where he could read, take notes and conduct experiments during his free time. He printed his own small newspaper on this train getting the news flashes from telegraphers in each town or city that he had passed through. Edison was truly a very enterprising young man, one who was always busy with his experiments. Thomas Edison became stone deaf at a very young age. His hearing was first impaired after a bout of scarlet fever. Later when one of his experiments set the train's baggage car on fire, he had his ears soundly boxed by the conductor and was fired. The blow on his head further aggravated his hearing. Although totally deaf, he went on to become the world's greatest inventor of all times.
A year or two after he lost his job on the train, he was credited with saving a station agent's child who had wandered on the tracks of an on-coming train. As a reward for his bravery, the station agent offered to teach Edison how to operate a telegraph. Upon completion of his training, he worked as a telegrapher in various towns and cities in the United States.
One of Edison's first inventions was an electric vote recorder. It, however, brought him very little in the way of income. His next invention was a ticker tape printer which he sold for $40,000. With the money he received for this invention, he built a laboratory where he continued his experiments.
At this new laboratory he spent hundreds of hours trying to perfect the filament in an incandescent lamp so it would stay lit for long periods of time. He finally hit on the right combination and the incandescent bulb was born in 1879.
Another of his famous inventions was the Edison cylinder phonograph which he invented in 1887. The sound recordings on his phonograph record were recorded on a cylinder made out of tin foil. His first recording was "Mary Had A Little Lamb." With additional improvements, millions of Edison phonographs were built and sold throughout the world.
During Thomas Edison's lifetime he devoted his scientific knowledge to inventing things that would make things easier for ordinary people.
Although severely handicapped because of his hearing impairment, this didn't seem to slow Thomas Edison down. He somehow overcame his handicap and became one of the world's best known inventors - one you could say contributed more to society than any other man.
Although Edison's inventions were all made in the United States, they nevertheless had an impact on our district as well as in the rest of the world. His early cylinder phonograph provided hundreds of hours of entertainment to our early pioneers. His electric light bulb was used in almost every home. The storage battery made it easy to start our cars, and his inventions which perfected both the motion picture camera and movie projector made movies and televison possible. His carbon telephone transmitter improved the telephones used in our homes and businesses. All of Edison's inventions improved our way of life. No man has ever made a greater impact on so many lives than did Thomas Alva Edison - the greatest inventor the world has ever known.