Thomas Edison Biography

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Thomas Edison

I chose to research American inventor Thomas Alva Edison. Born on February 11, 1847 to middle-class parents in Milan, Ohio, Thomas Edison was labeled as a unique and remarkable individual with a curious passion for knowledge even as a child. Edison was taken out of school at age seven when his teacher had run out of patience with the child’s relentless questioning, constant need for attention, and what would now most likely be considered ADHD. His beloved mother, Nancy, began teaching Tom the “three R’s and the Bible”, and was convinced his unusual behavior was largely because of his extraordinary intelligence (Guthridge 23). After his parents introduced him to the multiple resources of their local library, Thomas began to realize that he greatly preferred teaching himself all there was to learn rather than receive instruction from others. Thomas Edison’s “unique, mental, and physical stamina” are what drove him to becoming “a successful inventor in the 19th century” (Beals).

Thomas Edison’s road to success was not a straight, easy shot in any way. But he started his business ventures at a young age. At age twelve, Thomas “was selling newspapers, snacks and candy to people at the local railroad” station, in addition to running a small business of selling produce (Beals). Two years later, he published his very own paper and quickly gained over 300 subscribers. When Abraham Lincoln was running for President, Edison, an avid supporter, gained a little bit of fame from publishing campaign articles and advertising photographs of the candidate. Tom’s publishing projects began providing him with revenue in which he used to set up a chemical lab in his home basement, which his mother later made him shut down in fear of blowing up the house. Not long after, Edison was in the right place at the right time. While working at the railroad station, Edison heroically rescued the local stationmaster’s son who was walking in front of an oncoming train. As a reward for his rescue, the stationmaster began teaching the teenager to master Morse code and the telegraph. By the time Edison was fifteen, he had fully developed at achieved the skills necessary for both of these concepts. It was during this time that the Civil War broke out and Edison received a job as a replacement telegraph operator, substituting for one of the many operators who had gone off to war. About the time the war was over, Thomas had come up with his first real invention, the “automatic repeater,” which would allow almost anyone to “easily and speedily translate telegraph signals accurately” (Baldwin 163). However, Edison never patented this invention.

Edison soon relocated and took a job as a telegrapher at the booming Western Union Company in Boston, which was “the hub of the scientific, educational, and cultural universe at this time” (Bellis). While working long days at Western Union, Thomas found time to create his first patented invention, an electronic voting machine. However, this invention would turn out to be completely unsuccessful. Edison and other political figures quickly realized the “invention was too far ahead of his time due to the fact that many political parties relied on the delay period that occurred when manual vote counting” was going on so that they could attempt to change the opinions of their colleagues (Beals). It was eventually used in elections almost one hundred years later. Further down the road in Boston, Edison frequently listened to college lectures and became fascinated on the ideas of “multiplexing,” which ultimately were the beginning stages of the telephone (Guthridge 98). During this time, Edison acquainted himself with Benjamin Bredding, a young, future assistant to Alexander Graham Bell and the brain behind many of his inventions. Bredding “provided Thomas with the detailed introduction and understanding of the state-of-the-art of the harmonograph and the multiplex transmitter” (Beals). Edison soon was in...
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