Thomas Edison

In 1847, a boy was born in Milan, Ohio. When he reached school age, he started to school but only stayed a short time, as he was a slow learner. His mother taught him what education he received. This boy grown to manhood became a legend in his time, and he was called “the wizard of Menlo Park.” Can you name this man? Thomas Alva Edison, the greatest inventor this country ever produced.
When young Edison was 12 years old, he took a job selling peanuts, candies, and newspapers on trains. He was what we used to call a “news butcher” or “banana conductor.” He bought himself a set of type and a printing press and printed a weekly newspaper. Next, he learned Morse Code and became a roving telegraph operator and moved from town to town wherever he could find a job as an operator. Then he made his first invention. I doubt if anyone here can tell me what this first invention was. It was a voting machine. He took it to Washington when he was only 21 years old and tried to sell his voting machine to the Congress. Edison was ahead of his time. Congress wasn’t interested in his gadget that would register their votes.
Edison moved on to New York where he worked as a telegraph operator for a firm that reported stock sales of the NY Stock Exchange to a list of business firms by telegraph ticker tape. Edison made several improvements in the ticker tape machines and for one of these he was paid $40,000. He took the money and bought himself a shop, some machinery and started work on other inventions. His shop and laboratory was at Menlo Park, New Jersey, and out of this place came those amazing inventions that brought him fame and fortune and the title of “the wizard of Menlo Park.”
Here is a list of some of his most important inventions.
? a moving picture machine? ways to send several messages over one telegraph wire at the same time? a transmitter that made the Bell telephone a success.? the storage battery? the mimeograph machine? He helped develop the first successful typewriter.? He set up the first power plant to manufacture electricity and send it over wires to homes and business places.
His two most interesting and useful inventions were the phonograph and the incandescent electric light. In his invention of the phonograph, Edison and one of his skilled workers made the first talking machine, and the first words Edison recorded on tin foil was “Mary had a little lamb.” He then placed the tin foil on a cylinder and turned the crank and the machine repeated “Mary had a little lamb” and the talking machine was born.
In inventing the electric light bulb, Edison and his assistants were not as fortunate as with the phonograph where the first model worked. The difficult problem was to find some substance to make the filament or loop inside the light bulb. For thirteen months, Edison and his assistants worked day ad night, and finally they produced the first electric light. Edison himself tells the story. “We sat and looked and the lamp continued to burn and the longer it burned the more fascinated we were. None of us could go to bed. There was no sleep for 40 hours. The lamp burned about 45 hours.”
The filament for this first light was made of cotton thread that had been baked until it was stiff and hard. But then the search began for some kind of filament that would burn for hundreds of hours. The search for this material spread out over the entire world and cost Edison the fabulous sum of $100,000. One of his assistants traveled to Japan and brought back some bamboo strips. They did not work.
Edison, who had a winter home at Fort Myers, Florida, also had the entire state of Florida combed in search of the filament they needed to perfect the electric light. They tried coconut husk fibers and various other fiber plants, but none of these would do the job. An element was finally discovered that would serve. It was a thin wire made of tungsten, a metal that is usually mixed with iron ore to make steel.
Someone told Edison that his inventions must be pure inspiration. Edison, with a twinkle in his eye, replied, “Two percent inspiration and ninety-eight per cent perspiration.” His inquiring mind and dedication to hard work brought to Thomas Alva Edison the distinction of having more inventions to his credit than any man who ever lived.
There is a tale they tell around Fort Meyers. Tom Edison and three friends were out riding around one day when they had a flat tire. So they pulled into a crossroads filling station to have the tire changed and Tom Edison was talking to the country fellow who ran the station.“Do you know who I am?” Edison asked. “No,” the owner said. “Well, I’m Tom Edison and my friends are Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs.”“Do tell,” said the station owner who thought they were joking. “Do you know who I am. Well I am Napoleon Bonaparte.”

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