Thomas Edison

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Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was a true humble beginning. Born in Feburary 11, 1847, he was the youngest child of seven siblings. At the age of 12 he worked on the railroad because he was being home schooled. The telegram fascinated him. Teaching himself Morris code, he was able to become an operator at 15. After a few years he began to design prototypes for improving the telegraph. In his early twenties, Edison became an inventor and earned enough money to create his own research faculty. This is where he created his greatest inventions and invented himself the man America has idolized. His passing away in October 18, 1931 Herbert Hoover asked for everyone to morn his death by turning of their lights.

Early Life

As a young boy, Thomas Edison had troubles hearing. There are conjectures that he lost his hearing by being dropped, but experts say that wouldn't cause the extent of hearing loss he posses. Another hypothesis is that he had a bout with Scarlet Fever causing a hearing loss. At school, his teacher didn't think he could speak properly. Sitting to do math was a form of torture for him. The teacher also would put him in the corner so he couldn't hear and do the work. Without knowing what to do it caused him to ask lots of questions. However, this all didn't last for long and Edison's mother who was a school teacher taught him at home with early form of home schooling. While he was being home schooled his mother really motivated him to be a self driven person and had him read books. He feel in love with books. Edison is the youngest in his family and most of his 6 older siblings were moving away in the agrarian society. Also the family's house in position to the rest of the town was over a mile away it makes sense why he is so sheltered and became such a book lover. The curiosity of Edison is what made him such a hard worker and wanting overcome what his classmates and teachers had said about him. He didn't want to a failure so he worked to not be. The upbringing of negligence from everyone but his mother made him a better reader and made him determined.

Defining Quote

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Unlike most people, Edison had to overcome not simply just finding new inventions or his lack of hearing or his lack of education. Edison had to work hard to create an infrastructure that would use his technology. The genius was in the inventions, but to have those people work together was the perspiration. Testing into late nights was perspiration. These things defined Edison's entire life. Work harder than I did the day before and I will find a better solution.


Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 was making advances with the telephone. This competition helped Edison create his first invention. His idea was that competition made him stronger and it was inevitable that he would win because he was the greatest inventor ever to have lived. In order to prove it, he wanted to beat him in his own field of study. When the phonograph was made, Edison recorded the nursery rhyme Mary had a little lamb. Many people offered money in order for him to present the new device because the public was fascinated with the discovery. Even though it wouldn't be until another decade till people could use it, the phonograph created a new thought in the field of sound.

Light Bulb

Edison wanted to create a light that worked in door. Only light that was used commonly at that time was gas lanterns. The incandescent light bulb was the solution to this problem. However, a misconception that Edison invented the light bulb is wrong. At this time, he is trying to get investors and people like J.P Morgan to stay on board with his light bulb. Towards the end this job became harder and he wan't able to work on it because there was too much pressure from big Wall Street Companies. There was 1000 different attempts of bulbs and types of filaments used to try a illuminate for the night. Many things had actually worked for quite a bit of time, but only the carbon filament worked. This light transformed and created the infrastructure for electricity in major industrial areas.

Motion Pictures

Motion pictures were caught on film and called the kinetograph. It used a series of pictures to create a phonograph for the eye. It saved movement and when played you could see it move again. In order to view it you would use a Kinetoscope. It was a device that you would use one eye to see the film taken on it. Edison started the trend and didn't desire to give them sound because it seemed to uncomfortable. Other people advanced his work and created it on a projecting screen instead of small hole. This invention was called the Vitascope.
Thomas Edison - 1894 Boxing cats

Edison's impact

Edison's inventions didn't just become nifty gadgets, but the are things that other people continued to develop. Edison's genius was outlandish for that time period and invented the america we know today. If Edison was alive in Antebellum America when the industrial revolution was just beginning, his technologies would be more developed than they are today. His genius in that time period would have allowed for America to jump ahead the European countries instead of stealing their ideas like watermills. Edison was apart of the mass production and assembly with Henry Ford, but if he was around mechanization it would have gone well with his technologies. It may have shortened the civil war in the Norths favor as well allowing for less down time between great inventing times.

Turning the Century

In this political cartoon, Edison is climbing the mountain of gears. The gears represent inventions that are turning towards the modern age of america. Edison is close to the bottom because it represents how he got the wheels turning first. Edison is determined and wanting to reach the top. The farm represents the society that Edison's inventions are leaving behind. The agrarian society that was so popular for so long was changing by these modern day inventions. Just like gears need each other to work and spin other inventions and inventors needed to work together to create the modern america in the 20th century.
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Contrubution to America.

Edison was able to overcome many obstacles with his inventions. He was one of the first to use a large research faculty to investigate findings. He also had to overcome the lack of infrastructure for his electricity. Opposing scientist and competing inventors was another struggle for him to fight and stand his ground. The materials he used were made of every kind. There was no limit to what was in his laboratories. Most of inventions though use electricity which was a main inspiration from the telegram. The poles for sending telegrams was using electricity and it fascinated him. It is how he got his big start by improving the telegram with many patents he was able to have inspiration thanks to the railroad and the telegram. His work was great, but his work flow was terrible. He had barely any domestic life and when his first wife died he felt guilty. He had run away in order to avoid reporters as well. Young Edison was an unbalanced person with his life. However, his impact allowed for the creation of a modern age that turned the century and made America the industrial powerhouse with the use of electricity.

The Undiscovered World of Thomas Edison

Kathleen McAuliffe discuses life of the inventor passed what he did and what the public knows him as. Analyzing the work journals and private journals of his life. As the title suggests, exploring Edison's life came to the conclusion of a few findings. Edison's view on failure was very light and he never let it stop him from accomplishing his goals. This part of Edison was true because there is evidence in which is employees have talked about him never being able to conceive an experiment as a failure. Of course, an inventor was very experimental in his work, but Edison kept many arrangement of things from animal hide to the eye of a U.S Senator. While looking back at concepts, evidence that shows that Edison wanted to make motion pictures have sound with them. McAuliffe uses a formal voice even when talking about Edison being anti-Semitic something that would be difficult to present as an American. The tone that is established is one with awe. Even while pointing his flaws we can still idolize him as an american hero because just like us he isn't perfect. He was a self made man and his story inspires us to do the best we can no matter what. The methods used are rhetorical in nature by playing off the emotions of the reader. The author wants a feeling of somber inner reflection to the undiscovered world of a famous figure.

Inventing The Century

American Experinece

Edison changed the way the world viewed the American public. In Europe, they had great schools and valued long lasting traditions. America wasn't privileged enough to have these things as such a young country. Edison was able to invent to make america a industrial giant that run off the sweat of the working class. His philosophy of hard work and views on failure also helped guide many others after him. Edison invented the modern age with the light bulb and popularized the benefit of electricity.

Works Cited

Baldwin, Neil. Edison, Inventing the Century. New York: Hyperion, 1995. Print.

Historians, Sorting through a Treasure Trove of Edison's Papers, and Are Discovering

Revealing Details That Enrich Our Portrait of One of America's Most Accomplished

Inventors Kathleen McAuliffe. The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 03 Apr.


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Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

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