Thomas Alva Edison

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Tate (Edison's Open Door, 1938), and of Edison's laboratory assistant, Francis Jehl (Reminiscences of Menlo Park, 1939, 3 vols.), as well as The Papers of Thomas Alva Edison, the first five volumes of which have been published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and the amount of extant material now accumulated on the inventor is indeed staggering.
When Thomas Alva Edison died in 1931, President Herbert Hoover asked his countrymen to turn off their lamps for a moment in a widespread silent tribute to this great American.
The YEO and the Edison Preservation Foundation teamed up to create the YEO Thomas Alva Edison Award for Innovation to honor YEO members for their innovative contributions to society.
Even Thomas Alva Edison, America's most important "lone" inventor, worked with a team of 14.
Alexander Graham Bell exhibited the first telephone, and Thomas Alva Edison presented the automatic telegraph, one of more than 1,000 inventions he would patent in his lifetime.
Yet Zukor and the others first had to break the shackles of inventor Thomas Alva Edison, a shrewd businessman who was ready to have a monopoly of all motion-picture equipment that encompassed his patents and get a stranglehold on the film industry.
Ironically, Tesla himself made improvements in DC transmission while he "worked briefly for Thomas Alva Edison, who as the advocate of direct current became Tesla's unsuccessful rival in electric-power development." -- quoted from Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia (Vers.
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For example, students should know and admire Thomas Alva Edison. Social history, they argued, almost by definition, undermines this attempt to give our children a "real" education.