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Thomas Edison, without the benefit of a formal education, became one of Americas best known inventors. Inspired by a book on physical science and by writings from an early journal on electricity, Edison eventually set up his own laboratory and begin his life as an inventor.
Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio on February 11, 1847. He was the youngest of 7 children. His parents were Samuel and Nancy Edison. When Edison was 7, his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan. Thomas received only 3 months of formal schooling because the schoolmaster expelled him as ³retarded². For three years his mother, a former schoolteacher, tutored him. At 10 years old his mom gave him a physical science book, which led him to set up a small chemical laboratory in his cellar. Edison played pranks that frustrated his father, who would regularly beat him. He had middle ear deafness, a result from scarlatina. At the age of 12, Edison sold newspapers and candy on the new railroad between Port Huron and Detroit. Later he installed his laboratory in a baggage car nearby his stand. When his stand was not busy, Edison trained himself in telegraphy. After Edison learned telegraphy he roamed around the Midwestern and Southern cities as a ³tramp telegrapher². His earnings went mostly for electrical equipment and chemicals. In 1868 he obtained a position in Boston as an expert night operator for Western Union Telegraph Company.
On his 21st birthday he bought a used copy of Michael Farudayıs journals called Experimental Researches in Electricity. He read it without stopping. Edison preformed all of Farudayıs experiments. His experimental work became more painstaking and he began to keep laboratory notebooks of his findings. After borrowing a small sum of money from an acquaintance, he left his job in the fall of 1868, and became a free-lance inventor.
His first invention, the electrical vote recorder, worked very well when exhibited before a committee of Congress, but no one bought it. In the summer of 1869 Edison lived in New York, sleeping in a basement below Wall Street. At a moment of crisis Edison was called in to try to repair the officeıs new telegraphic gold-price indicator, he did it so well, he was given a job as the machineıs supervisor. Soon he had remodeled the machine to such an effect that the owners, the Western Union Telegraph Company, commissioned him to improve the crude stock ticker just coming into use. Edison did this by creating the Edison Universal Stock Printer. With this creation and several other derivatives of the Morse telegraph he earned 40,000 dollars. With his money he set himself up as a manufacturer in Newark, New Jersey, producing stock tickers and high speed printing telegraphs.
Thomas Edison married Mary Stilwell in 1871. She was a gentle undereducated woman. They had two boys and one girl. Edison was often distracted by his work and tended to neglect them. In 1874 Edisonıs quadruplex telegraph was his most ingenious invention. In his Newark factory, Edison set aside a room equipped with scientific instruments. In this room he could plan and preform experiments according to what he liked. In 1876 Edison gave up the Newark factory and moved to the village of Menlo Park, New Jersey, to set up a laboratory. Here Edison could devote his full time to his work. He installed a building for a quantity of fine measuring instruments. He also made a library of scientific publications. Menlo Park was the first industrial research laboratory. Edison promised he would turn out a minor invention every ten days and a big invention every six months.
In 1876 Edison was commissioned to improve Alexander Graham Bellıs ³speaking telegraph². Edison added the carbon transmitter, which increased the instrumentıs audibility. In 1877, Edison achieved his most original invention, the phonograph, based on a fresh observation of the dynamics of sound. The phonograph made Edison internationally famous. After Edison announced that he would invent a safe, mild and inexpensive electric light, leading financiers advanced Edison 50,000 dollars for research and development. The financiers went so far as to establish the Edison Electric Light Company. Edison proposed to connect his lights in a parallel circuit by subdividing the current, so that failure of one light bulb would not
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Thomas Edison, Edison, New Jersey, Deists, General Electric, Telegraphy, Edison, Menlo Park, New Jersey, Francis Jehl, Charles Batchelor
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