Last updated on February 24th, 2019
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He is a renowned scientist all over the world for his famous work related to the electric lightbulb and many other innovations. With 52 interesting facts about Thomas Edison, let’s learn more about his childhood, personal life, inventions, patents, laboratories and more…
Facts about Thomas Edison’s childhood and early years
1. Surprisingly, Edison did not learn to talk until he was almost four years old.
2. Thomas Edison’s forehead was unusually broad, and his head was considerably larger than average.
3. During his childhood, Edison narrowly escaped from drowning in the barge canal that ran alongside his home.
4. In 1954, at the age of seven, Edison attended school for a short period of 12 weeks. Being a hyperactive child and prone to distraction, Edison’s teachers could not handle him. His mother removed him from school and tutored him at home until the age of 11. Thus, Edison had very little formal education as a child.
5. The removal of Edison from school proved beneficial for his career, as he developed self-learning skills with his ever increasing appetite for knowledge and reading.
6. Edison was fond of Shakespeare’s plays and wanted to be an actor. However, due to his high-pitched voice and his extreme shyness before every audience, he soon gave up the idea.
7. Edison enjoyed reading and reciting poetry. His life-long favorite was Thomas Gray’s “Elegy In A Country Churchyard.” Here is a line that he chanted endlessly: “The boast of heraldry of pomp and power, All that beauty all that wealth ere gave, Alike await the inevitable hour. The path to glory leads but to the grave.”
8. Edison, out of his curiosity and appetite to learn, read every book in the library starting with the last book on the bottom of the shelf. However, his parents guided him to become more selective with his reading.
9. In the beginning of his life, Edison worked as a telegraph operator. This job inspired many of his inventions in the telecommunications field.
10. Thomas Edison was nearly deaf as an adult as he became affected with scarlet fever and ear infections in the early years of his life. However, Edison cited a train accident as the cause of his hearing loss.
11. At the age of thirteen, after selling newspapers for a short time, Edison decided to publish his own newspaper—the Grand Trunk Herald—and sell copies to his existing clients. He published up-to-date stories that became a hit with his customers.
12. During this time, Edison also set up a small laboratory in a baggage car. However, during one of his experiments a chemical fire started and the car caught fire. Edison was forced to leave the train and sell newspapers once again.
13. Edison had a chance to improve his hearing by way of an operation; however, he refused to take the option. He simply did not want to go through the difficulty of relearning how to channel his thinking in a noisier world.
14. A significant event in Edison’s life: Edison got a chance to learn to operate a telegraph when he saved a three-year-old from a train accident. The child’s grateful father, the station’s agent, taught Edison telegraphy as a reward.
15. At the age of 16, Edison became a proficient telegrapher and started working as one full-time.
16. Edison also worked for The Associated Press for some time. However, he had to leave his job because of the progress of technology and his hearing disability, which did not allow him to continue his work for the company. He became employed again with the Western Union Company.
Facts about Thomas Edison’s inventions
17. In 1876, he set up his first lab in Menlo Park, California. This was the world’s first industrial research laboratory. In some sense, this laboratory is also considered one of his greatest inventions. It was well equipped, and is where Edison worked to change the world.
18. Thomas Edison was dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”
19. Edison invented the world’s first practical incandescent light. It took him one and a half years to build the lamp, which burned for thirteen and a half hours. The lamp had a filament of carbonized sewing thread.
20. On December 31st 1879, the Menlo Park laboratory complex was electrically lit for the first time, which demonstrated to the public the great invention that Edison had engineered. Interestingly, Albert Einstein was born in the same year.
21. Edison invented an electric light bulb, while Einstein gave the world one of the most famous equations explaining the relationship between energy, mass and the speed of light. The equation is E=MC2.
22. Edison’s first invention in Menlo Park was the tin foil phonograph. He was invited to demonstrate it to the president of the United States–Rutherford B. Hayes–in the White House.
23. Some of his inventions, including the electric bulb and motion pictures, have pioneered many other industries in the world.
24. He also developed the first electric power generation and distribution system that would supply electricity to homes in the region.
25. Edison invented the machine for electrically recording and counting votes cast by members of a legislative body, but it was of no commercial value, so he decided to invent only those things that people would want to buy.
26. A funny fact about Edison is that he even made a device to kill cockroaches with electricity.
27. Edison lost millions of dollars while experimenting to invent a method of separating ore from rock. It was the biggest failure of his lifetime.
28. Tomas Edison is the first person in the world to project a motion picture. He did so successfully on April 23, 1896.
29. Edison also designed a battery for the self-starter for the Model T developed by Henry Ford.
30. The phonograph was Edison’s most famous invention.
31. The first of his breakthrough inventions, which yielded him a sum of $40,000, was an improved stock ticker. This was called the “Universal Stock Printer.” At the time of this invention, Edison was only 22 years old. The new financial freedom allowed Edison to focus on his inventions and get involved with them full-time.
Facts about Edison’s family and children
32. By the early 1870s, Edison was a rich man and married a 16-year-old employee at one of his businesses.
33. Edison’s first wife, Mary, died in 1884. Edison remarried in 1886 after falling in love with Mina Miller.
34. Edison nicknamed two of his children he had with his first wife “Dot” and “Dash” in honor of his early telegraph days.
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