Thomas Alva Edison, 1847 - 1931
Louis Bachrach photo, circa 1922
Born: 11 February 1847, Milan, Ohio
Died: 18 October 1931, West Orange, New Jersey
The youngest son of railroad man Samuel "The Iron Shovel" Edison had a wandering mind. His only schoolteacher called him "addled" and he only lasted three months. He was educated by reading with help from his mother. He had scarlet fever in childhood and numerous ear infections, leading to hearing difficulties. In 1854 the family moved to Port Huron, Michigan when the railroad bypassed Milan and Edison sold candy and newspapers on the train to Detroit. He saved a three-year-old boy from being struck by a runaway train, the boy's father was a station agent at Mount Clemons, Michigan and trained Edison as a telegraph operator. In 1866 he moved to Louisville, Kentucky where he worked for Western Union handling the Associated Press wire at nights, an experiment with a lead-acid battery ended with a spill which leaked onto his bosses desk and he was fired after a year. He moved in with a friend and fellow telegrapher at Elizabeth, New Jersey and started inventing, his first patent was for an electric vote recorder in 1869. His breakthrough came in 1877 with the invention of the phonograph. This was a result of establishing the first industrial research lab at Menlo Park, since named Edison, New Jersey, with the proceeds from the sale of a patent to Western Union. It was here that Edison developed the first practical electric light, the stock ticker, the carbon transmitter for the telephone, the fluoroscope, the electric train, the motion picture camera, and many others, and here that the work was done on most of his 1,093 US patents. He created the electric utility business, although he stubbornly promoted direct current over the more practical alternating current that eventually became the standard. He organized the Edison Trust, a patent pool involving most of the players in motion picture equipment, supplies, and distribution, which established the current form of that business. Edison was an aggressive competitor and promoter, and he was never bashful about admitting that most of his success came from taking the work of others, improving it, and organizing production on a larger scale. Edison worked until his final illness, he died of complications related to diabetes.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Thomas Edison quotes:
Click here to find books by Thomas Edison at Amazon.com
- Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success. permalink
- As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey. permalink
- Be courageous. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has emerged from these stronger and more prosperous. Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward! permalink
- Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. permalink
- During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple. I would construct a theory and work on its lines until I found it was untenable. Then it would be discarded at once and another theory evolved. This was the only possible way for me to work out the problem. permalink
"Talks with Edison" by George Parsons Lathrop, Harpers (Vol. 80, February 1890)
- Everyone steals in commerce and industry. I've stolen a lot, myself. But I know how to steal! They don't know how to steal! permalink
- Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits. permalink
- Genius is one percent inspiration and ninty-nine percent perspiration. permalink
- Great ideas originate in the muscles. permalink
- Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something. permalink
- I am long on ideas, but short on time. I only expect to live about a hundred years. permalink
- I am more of a sponge than an inventor. I absorb ideas from every source. My principal business is giving commercial value to the brilliant but misdirected ideas of others. permalink
- I am much less interested in what is called God's word than in God's deeds. All bibles are man-made. permalink
The Atlantic Monthly (October 1921)
- I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward. permalink
- I consider Paine our greatest political thinker. As we have not advanced, and perhaps never shall advance, beyond the Declaration and Constitution, so Paine has had no successors who extended his principles. permalink
The Philosophy of Paine (1925)
Please report any problems on this page! If you see any typos, incorrect attributions, deformed characters, or any other problem with this page, we want to fix it as soon
as possible. Please click here to report errors.
Note: Do not use titles in author searches, we don't use them, including president, senator, prime minister, king, queen, saint, or doctor, or abbreviations thereof. See explanation here.