On This Day

Thomas Edison

Inventor Thomas Edison

Profession: Inventor

United States of America

Biography: A prolific inventor whose discoveries changed life for ever and ushered in the electric age.

His inventions included the phonograph, the electric light bulb, the electric power industry and motion pictures. He holds an incredible 1,093 US patents in his name.

His passion for direct current (DC) over Westinghouse's alternating current (AC) resulted in a "War of the Currents" that Edison largely lost.

As AC increased its market share, Edison was forced out of his own company in 1892. The financier J.P. Morgan then engineered a merger of Edison General Electric with Thomson-Houston, creating the industrial behemoth General Electric.

Born: February 11, 1847
Birthplace: Milan, Ohio, USA
Star Sign: Aquarius

Died: October 18, 1931 (aged 84)
Cause of Death: Diabetes complications

Articles and Photos

Married Life

  • 1871-12-25 Inventor Thomas Edison (24) marries 1st wife Mary Stilwell (16)
  • 1886-02-24 Inventor Thomas Edison (38) marries 2nd wife Mina Miller (20) in Akron, Ohio

Historical Events

  • 1869-06-01 Thomas Edison granted his first patent for the Electric Vote Recorder (U.S. Patent 90,646)
  • 1876-08-08 Thomas Edison is granted the patent for Autographic Printing (US Patent 180,857)
  • 1877-08-12 Thomas Edison completes 1st model for the phonograph, a device that recorded sound onto tinfoil cylinders
  • 1877-11-29 US inventor Thomas Edison demonstrates his hand-cranked phonograph for the first time
  • 1877-12-06 Thomas Edison records himself reciting "Mary had a little lamb"
  • 1877-12-07 Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph (gramophone) to the editors of "Scientific American"
  • 1877-12-22 Thomas Edison's phonograph is announced by Scientific American
  • 1877-12-24 Thomas Edison files a patents for the phonograph
  • 1878-02-19 Thomas Edison is granted a patent for his gramophone (phonograph)
  • 1878-05-04 Thomas Edison's Phonograph shown for 1st time at Grand Opera House
  • 1879-10-22 Thomas Edison perfects carbonized cotton filament light bulb
  • 1879-12-20 Thomas Edison privately demonstrated incandescent light at Menlo Park
  • 1880-01-27 Thomas Edison patents electric incandescent lamp
  • 1881-01-25 Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company.
  • 1882-09-04 In its 1st large-scale test, Thomas Edison's light bulb is used to light NY's Pearl Street Station
  • 1882-12-22 1st string of Christmas tree lights created by Thomas Edison
  • 1883-01-19 The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey
  • 1887-05-02 Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film (used in Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope)
  • 1888-10-17 Thomas Edison files a patent for the Optical Phonograph (the first movie)
  • 1889-10-06 Thomas Edison shows his 1st motion picture
  • 1891-05-20 1st public display of Thomas Edison's prototype kinetoscope to members of the National Federation of Women's Club
  • 1891-08-24 Thomas Edison patents motion picture camera
  • 1892-04-15 General Electric Company formed by merger of Thomas Edison's General Electric Company with Thomson-Houston Electric Company, arranged by J. P. Morgan and incorporated in NY
  • 1892-07-11 US Patent Office says Joseph Swan rather than Thomas Edison, invented the electric light carbon for the incandescent lamp
  • 1893-02-01 Thomas Edison completes worlds 1st movie studio at West Orange, New Jersey
  • 1894-01-07 William K.L. Dickson captures "Fred Ott's Sneeze" as a motion picture at Thomas Edison's Black Mariah Studio, West Orange, New Jersey
  • 1894-04-14 1st public showing of Thomas Edison's kinetoscope (moving pictures)
  • 1894-09-08 Employed by Thomas Edison, William K.L. Dickson films first boxing match at West Orange, New Jersey, an exhibition between world heavyweight champion James J. Corbett and Peter Courtney
  • 1897-08-31 Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope [kinetographic camera], a device which produces moving pictures
  • 1902-03-10 A United States court of appeals rules that Thomas Edison did not invent the movie camera
  • 1903-01-04 Topsy the elephant is electrocuted by her owners at Luna Park, Coney Island and filmed by Edison Manufacturing movie company
  • 1915-05-24 Thomas Edison invents telescribe to record telephone conversations
  • 1926-05-20 Thomas Edison says Americans prefer silent movies over talkies
  • 1928-07-30 George Eastman shows first amateur color motion pictures to guests at his New York house including Thomas Edison
  • 1931-01-06 Thomas Edison submits his last patent application

Quotes by Thomas Edison

  • "Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something." - Innovation, Rules
  • "I never did a day's work in my life, it was all fun." - Work, Fun
  • "Anything that won’t sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success." - Sales, Success, Utility
  • "There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labour of thinking." - Thinking, Work

Biographies and Sources

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