|The Biography of Thomas Edison | |”… Thomas Edison was more responsible than any one else for creating the modern world …. No one did more to shape the physical/cultural | |makeup of present day civilization…. Accordingly, he was the most influential figure of the millennium…. ” | |The Heroes Of The Age: Electricity And Man | | | |[pic] | |Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison was not born into poverty in a backwater mid-western town. Actually, he was born -on Feb.
11, 1847 -| |to middle-class parents in the bustling port of Milan, Ohio, a community that – next to Odessa, Russia – was the largest wheat shipping center| |in the world. In 1854, his family moved to the vibrant city of Port Huron, Michigan, which ultimately surpassed the commercial preeminence of | |both Milan and Odessa…. | | | | | | | | | | At age 29, he commenced work on the carbon transmitter, which ultimately made Alexander Graham Bell’s amazing new “articulating” telephone | |(which by today’s standards sounded more like someone trying to talk through a kazoo than a telephone) audible enough for practical use.
| |Interestingly, at one point during this intense period, Edison was as close to inventing the telephone as Bell was to inventing the | |phonograph. Nevertheless, shortly after Edison moved his laboratory to Menlo Park, N. J. in 1876, he invented – in 1877 – the first phonograph. | | | | | | In 1879, extremely disappointed by the fact that Bell had beaten him in the race to patent the first authentic transmission of the human | |voice, Edison now “one upped” all of his competition by inventing the first commercially practical incandescent electric light bulb…
| | And if that wasn’t enough to forever seal his unequaled importance in technological history, he came up with an invention that – in | |terms of its collective affect upon mankind – has had more impact than any other. In 1883 and 1884, while beating a path from his research lab| |to the patent office, he introduced the world’s first economically viable system of centrally generating and distributing electric light, | |heat, and power. (See “Greatest Achievement?
“) Powerfully, instrumental in impacting upon the world we know today, even his harshest critics | |grant that it was a Herculean achievement that only he was capable of bringing about at this specific point in history. | |By 1887, Edison was recognized for having set up the world’s first full fledged research and development center in West Orange, New Jersey. An| |amazing enterprise, its significance is as much misunderstood as his work in developing the first practical centralized power system.
| |Regardless, within a year, this fantastic operation was the largest scientific testing laboratory in the world. | | | | In 1890, Edison immersed himself in developing the first Vitascope, which would lead to the first silent motion pictures. | | | | And, by 1892, his Edison General Electric Co. had fully merged with another firm to become the great General Electric Corporation, in | |which he was a major stockholder. | | | | At the turn-of-the-century, Edison invented the first practical dictaphone, mimeograph, and storage battery.
After creating the | |”kinetiscope” and the first silent film in 1904, he went on to introduce The Great Train Robbery in 1903, which was a ten minute clip that was| |his first attempt to blend audio with silent moving images to produce “talking pictures. ” | | By now, Edison was being hailed world-wide as The wizard of Menlo Park, The father of the electrical age,” and The greatest inventor who | |ever lived. ” Naturally, when World War I began, he was asked by the U. S. Government to focus his genius upon creating defensive devices for | |submarines and ships.
During this time, he also perfected a number of important inventions relating to the enhanced use of rubber, concrete, | |and ethanol. | | | | By the 1920s Edison was internationally revered. However, even though he was personally acquainted with scores of very important people | |of his era, he cultivated very few close friendships. And due to the continuing demands of his career, there were still relatively long | |periods when he spent a shockingly small amount of time with his family.
| | | |It wasn’t until his health began to fail, in the late 1920s, that Edison finally began to slow down and, so to speak, “smell the flowers. ” Up | |until obtaining his last (1,093rd) patent at age 83, he worked mostly at home where, though increasingly frail, he enjoyed greeting former | |associates and famous people such as Charles Lindberg, Marie Curie, Henry Ford, and President Herbert Hoover etc. He also enjoyed reading the | |mail of admirers and puttering around, when able, in his office and home laboratory. | | | | | | | | | | Thomas Edison died At 9 P. M. On Oct. 18th, 1931 in New Jersey.
He was 84 years of age. Shortly before passing away, he awoke from a coma | |and quietly whispered to his very religious and faithful wife Mina, who had been keeping a vigil all night by his side: “It is very beautiful| |over there… ” | | | | Recognizing that his death marked the end of an era in the progress of civilization, countless individuals, communities, and corporations| |throughout the world dimmed their lights and, or, briefly turned off their electric power in his honor on the evening of the day he was laid | |to rest at his beautiful estate at Glenmont, New Jersey.
Most realized that, even though he was far from being a flawless human being and | |may not have really had the avuncular personality that was so often ascribed to him by myth makers, he was an essentially good man with a | |powerful mission…. Driven by a superhuman desire to fulfill the promise of research and invent things to serve mankind, no one did more to | |help realize our Puritan founders dream of creating a country that – at its best – would be viewed by the rest of the world as “a shining | |city upon a hill. ” | [pic]