Thomas Alva Edison was born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio and grew up in Port Huron, Michigan.
He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park”, Edison was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.
Edison went on to hold 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.
More significant than the number of his patents, were the impacts of his inventions, because Edison not only invented things, his inventions established major new industries world-wide, notably, electric light and power utilities, sound recording and motion pictures.
Thomas Edison was active all of his life. Just months before his death, the Lackawanna Railroad inaugurated suburban electric train service from Hoboken to Montclair, Dover, and Gladstone in New Jersey. Electrical transmission for this service was by means of an overhead catenary system using direct current, which he had championed.
Despite his frail condition, Edison was at the throttle of the first electric MU (Multiple-Unit) train to depart Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken in September of 1930, driving the train the first mile through Hoboken yard on its way to South Orange.
A plaque commemorating Edison’s inaugural ride can be seen today in the waiting room of Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, which is presently operated by New Jersey Transit.
He also became the owner of his Milan, Ohio, birthplace in 1906.
On his last visit, in 1923, Edison was reportedly shocked to find his old home still lit by lamps and candles.
Then Thomas Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931, in his home, “Glenmont” in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey, which he had purchased in 1886 as a wedding gift for his wife Mina. He is buried behind his home.
Edison’s last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at the Henry Ford Museum. Henry Ford reportedly convinced son Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor’s room shortly after his death, as a memento.
A plaster death mask was also made.
Now WE know em