Thomas Alva Edison

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Edison, Thomas Alva


Born Feb. 11,1847, in Milan, Ohio; died Oct. 18, 1931, in West Orange, N.J. American inventor in electrical engineering, the owner and founder of major electrical engineering companies.

Edison was a descendant of Dutch immigrants. After receiving a primary education, he began working at the age of 12 as a newsboy and later as a telegraph operator. Having made his home in Newark, N.J., he produced his first invention in 1868 and opened a workshop where his devices were manufactured. Between 1869 and 1876, Edison designed a number of original devices, including the stock ticker. He also worked on multiplex telegraphy and improved the typewriter.

In 1876, Edison moved to Menlo Park, N.J., where he resided until 1887. At Menlo Park, he established a major laboratory with workshops. During this period, he improved A. Bell’s telephone and, in 1877, invented the phonograph. In 1879 he proposed and introduced a commercially practical incandescent lamp. He also invented various electrical devices, such as the screw socket and base for electric lamps, the electric fuse, a rotary switch, and the electric meter. In addition, Edison carried out experiments on the electrification of railroads and developed a magnetic method of ore separation. In 1883 he discovered thermionic emission, which is known as the Edison effect. Edison also designed electric generators that were the most powerful of their day. In 1882 the world’s first DC electric power plant designed to provide power to the public was built in New York City according to his specifications.

In the late 1880’s, Edison established a number of major concerns for the production and sale of electric machines and equipment, lighting equipment, and incandescent lamps. His concerns also operated the electric power plants and telegraph stations that he had built in the USA and Europe.

From 1887 until his death, Edison resided in West Orange, N.J., where he headed his “invention factory.” During this period, he improved the phonograph and the motion-picture camera. He also invented a device that was the prototype of the dictating machine, equipment for recording telephone conversations, a railroad brake, and the nickel-iron battery.


The Diary and Sundry Observations. New York, 1948.


Lapirov-Skoblo, M. Ia. Edison. Moscow, 1960.
Bel’kind, L. D. Tomas Al’va Edison. Moscow, 1964.


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