On February 11, 1847, the modern world was blessed with one of our favorite inventors and New Jerseyans (sort of): Thomas Alva Edison. Known as one of the three fathers of electricity (along with Michael Faraday and Nikola Tesla), Edison is perhaps the most prolific and widely regarded inventors of all time. Over his lifetime, he received over 1,000 patents for his projects.
Some inventions were lesser known, like the electric vote recorder and the Tasimeter – a device with the sole purpose of measuring heat from the outermost part of sun during the Solar eclipse of 1878. Others, like the phonograph or the first practical lightbulb, paved the way for countless innovations in electricity.
Edison grew up in Port Huron, Michigan and had his first “lab” at the age of 10. However, most of us are more familiar with the inventor’s infamous Menlo Park, NJ lab. Established in 1876, the space was developed for industrial research. With the success of the quadruplex telegraph (another of his inventions), the lab was put on the map as being the first institution with the specific purpose of producing constant technological innovation and improvement.
While much is known about Thomas Edison’s life, here are some fun, lesser known facts to hang on to for a rainy day –
- Thomas Edison holds the highest number of patents on record, 1,093, including those for the modern lightbulb, the motion picture camera and the phonograph.
- Edison’s is the first recorded voice on the phonograph. He recited the words to the children’s song, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
- The inventor was deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other. There are differing theories as to how this occurred. At an early age, Edison contracted Scarlet Fever, resulting in reoccurring, untreated ear infections, which may have caused deafness. Edison also claimed that his hearing impairment was caused from getting his ears boxed by train conductor after one of his inventions caught on fire. Later still, he changed the story, saying that the conductor was trying to “help” him onto a moving train by lifting him up by the ears.
- He thought “talkies” or “talking” cinema was ruined because “they concentrate on the voice…and have forgotten how to act. I can sense it more than you because I’m deaf.”
- Eerie Edison…Supposedly, Thomas Edison’s last breath was captured in a test tube at the Henry Ford museum in Detroit. A plaster death mask and casts of Edison’s hands were also created.
Click here for more information on Thomas Edison’s life and inventions. For help with fixing some of Thomas Edison’s inventions in your home – contact Mister Sparky!