The biography of Thomas Edison

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.

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In 1889 the Edison Electric Light Company merged with several other Edison companies to become the Edison General Electric Company. When the Edison General Electric Company merged with Thomson-Houston in 1892, a bitter struggle developed, Edison's name was dropped, and Edison himself had no more involvement with the newly formed General Eclectic Company beyond defending his patents.

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Edison decided to try a carbonized cotton thread filament. When voltage was applied to the completed bulb, it began to radiate a soft orange glow. Just about fifteen hours later, the filament finally burned out. Further experimentation produced filaments that could burn longer and longer with each test. In Britain, Swan took Edison to court for patent infringement. Edison lost and as part of the settlement, Edison was forced to take Swan in as a partner in his British electric works. The company was called the Edison and Swan United Electric Company (later known as Ediswan which was then incorporated into Thorn Lighting Ltd). Eventually, Edison acquired all of Swan's interest in the company. Swan sold his United States patent rights to the Brush Electric Company in June 1882.

Who was Thomas Edison? - Project Britain
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Edison Biography - Thomas Edison

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Because of the peculiar voids that Edison often evinced in areas such as cognition, speech, grammar, etc., a number of medical authorities have argued that he may have been plagued by a fundamental learning disability that went well beyond mere deafness.... A few of have conjectured that this mysterious ailment - along with his lack of a formal education - may account for why he always seemed to "think so differently" compared to others of his time: "Always tenaciously clinging to those unique methods of analysis and experimentation with which he alone seemed to feel so comfortable...."

Whatever the impetus for his unique personality and traits, his incredible ability to come up with a meaningful new patent every two weeks throughout his working career "added more to the collective wealth of the world - and had more impact upon shaping modern civilization - than the accomplishments of any figure since Gutenberg...." Accordingly, most serious science and technology historians grant that he was indeed "The most influential figure of our millennium."

Thomas Edison National Historical Park (U.S. National …

Thomas Alva Edison was the most prolific inventor in American history. He amassed a record 1,093 patents covering key innovations and minor improvements in wide range of fields, including telecommunications, electric power, sound recording, motion pictures, primary and storage batteries, and mining and cement technology. As important, he broadened the notion of invention to encompass what we now call innovation-invention, research, development, and commercialization-and invented the industrial research laboratory. Edison's role as an innovator is evident not only in his two major laboratories at Menlo Park and West Orange in New Jersey but in more than 300 companies formed worldwide to manufacture and market his inventions, many of which carried the Edison name, including some 200 Edison illuminating companies.