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Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Alva Edison


Born:  February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio, United States
Died:  October 18, 1931 in West Orange, New Jersey, United States

Occupation:  inventor

Family: Married Mary Stillwell on December 25, 1871 (died 1884); children: Marion, Thomas, and William. Married Mina Miller on February 24, 1886 (died 1946); children: Madeline, Charles, and Theodore.

Thomas Edison and his phonograph.

Thomas Alva Edison was a famous American inventor. He is responsible for creating more than 1,000 inventions. His inventions include the electric light bulb and the phonograph.

Edison was born in Ohio in 1847. He is described as a genius. But, he only had three months of formal schooling. In 1868, he designed a machine to record votes. It was his first major invention.

Edison worked for a time as a telegraph operator. Telegraphs are electric machines that send coded messages from one person to another. Many of Edison's early inventions improved telegraphs. Edison earned enough money from his inventions to start a research laboratory. He set up shop in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

In 1877, Edison invented a phonograph. It recorded sounds on a cylinder. One year earlier he had created a useful part for the telephone. (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.)

One of Edison's greatest inventions was the electric light bulb in 1879. He also developed a system to carry electricity into homes. In 1882, the Pearl Street electric power plant opened. It was the first power plant in the world. It supplied power to 85 homes in New York. Those homes could then use electric light bulbs rather than candles for light at night.

In 1891, Edison created a moving picture machine called the kinetoscope. In 1903, he produced one of the first motion pictures, The Great Train Robbery.

Edison died in 1931 at the age of 84.

Source Citation:  "Thomas Alva Edison." Kids InfoBits. Thomson Gale, 2005.   Reproduced in Kids InfoBits.  Detroit:  Gale, 2011.   http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/KidsInfoBits