Thomas Edison made more than a thousand inventions, including the incandescent electric lamp, the phonograph, the carbon telephone transmitter, and the motion-picture projector. He also created the world's first industrial research laboratory.
He was born in Milan, Ohio. By the time he was ten he had set up a small chemical laboratory in the cellar of his home after his mother got him interested in physical science book. He found the study of chemistry and the production of electrical current from jars interesting and soon made a homemade telegraph set.
In 1868 he went to Boston as an expert night operator for Western Union Telegraph Company but did not sleep much because he was enjoyed experimenting with electrical currents in new ways.
Borrowing some money allowed him to give up his job in the autumn of 1868 and became an inventor, with his first success been an electrical vote recorder.
During the summer in 1869 he was in New York and slept in a basement below Wall Street. Edison was called in to try to repair the office's new telegraphic gold-price indicator at a moment of crisis on the Gold Exchange caused by the breakdown of the telegraphic machine and because he did it so well, he was given a job as its supervisor. Soon he had remodelled the machine so well that its owners, the Western Union Telegraph Company, commissioned him to improve the crude stock ticker just coming into use. It was called Edison Universal Stock Printer, which, together with several other derivatives of the Morse telegraph, brought him a sudden fortune of $40,000. With this money he set himself up as a manufacturer in Newark, New Jersey, producing stock tickers and high-speed printing telegraphs. In 1876 Edison gave up the Newark factory altogether and moved to the village of Menlo Park, New Jersey, to set up a laboratory where he could devote his time to making new inventions.
He promised that he would turn out a minor invention every ten days and a 'big trick' every six months. Before long he had 40 different projects going at the same time and was applying for as many as 400 people a year.
In September 1878, Edison boldly announced he would invent a safe, mild, and inexpensive electric light that would replace the gaslight in millions of homes. He said he would do this by using an entirely different method of current distribution from that used for arc lights. He preposed this after having viewed an exhibition of a series of eight glaring 500 candlepower arc lights. To back the lamp effort, some of New York's leading financial figures joined with Edison in October 1878 to form the Edison Electric Light Company, the predecessor of today's General Electric Company.
On October 21,1879, Edison demonstrated the carbon-filament lamp, supplied with current by his special high-voltage dynamos. The pilot light-and-power station at Menlo Park glowed with a circuit of 30 lamps, each of which could be turned on or off without affecting the rest. Three years later, the Pearl Street central power station in downtown New York City was completed, initiating the electrical illumination of the cities of the world.
In 1887 Edison moved his workshop from Menlo Park to West Orange, New Jersey, where he built the Edison Laboratory (now a national monument), a facility 10 times larger than the earlier one. In time it was surrounded with factories employing some 5,000 people and producing a variety of new products, among them his improved phonograph using wax records, the mimeograph, fluoroscope, alkaline storage battery, dictating machine, and motion-picture cameras and projectors. During World War I, the old inventor led the Naval Consulting Board and directed research in torpedo mechanisms and antisubmarine devices. It was due to the fact that Congress established the Naval Research Laboratory the first institution for military research, in 1920. Throughout his career, Edison built devices that could useful and become popular and regularly used. Edison spent his life designing projects that would increase the convenience and pleasure of mankind.