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5 Things Edison Taught Us

Inventor Thomas Edison is world renowned, not only for the array of inventions which continue to significantly impact the modern world to this day, but also for the positive attitude and relentless approach he took to his endeavors. On this anniversary of Edison’s birthday, February 11, 1847, let us celebrate not only his vast array of contributions, but also the spirit of the man himself.

Amazing Contributions of Thomas Alva Edison:

Incandescent Light Bulb

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Though Edison did not invent the first light bulb, as most people believe, he did invent the first incandescent light bulb. Though prior bulbs burned out after only a few minutes, Edison’s incandescents were practical, staying lit for hours and hours, and amazingly are still in use today after over 135 years.

Electricity

“There are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.”

Thanks to Edison’s dynamo technology, devices similar to generators, which make direct current (DC) electricity with the help of electromagnetism, a complete system was created capable of delivering DC electricity to large areas. In 1882, the formation of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York, constructed the first commercial electricity generation and distribution system. It powered a one-mile square of residences and businesses in Manhattan, offering Americans more affordable, efficient electricity and lighting. The company would later take part in mergers leading to the formation of General Electric in 1892, which would later become innovators in AC electricity, though Edison would not play a starring role.

Phonograph

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

One of Edison’s favorite inventions, the phonograph, revolutionized sound recording. Though devices existed capable of recording sound, none had the capability for playback, as Edison’s 1877 phonograph did. The two needled device – one for recording and one for playback – led to the development of recorded telecommunications, improvements in dictation and letter writing, phonographic books for the blind, music boxes and toys, and music portability.

Motion Picture Camera

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

After the phonograph and with the help of employee W.K.L. Dickson, Edison spent years inventing the motion picture camera. He wanted to do for the eye what the phonograph did for the ear. Following the invention of the kinetograph (motion picture camera) and kinetoscope (peephole motion picture viewer), he constructed a motion picture production studio for filming. The Boxing Gordon Sisters, fighting cats, and films starring Annie Oakley and Native American Dancers from Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West Show” were some of Edison’s first productions. He would later be beaten by Jenkins and Arnat’s vitascope before creating his own device for displaying movies to large groups, the projectoscope, forerunner to today’s movie projectors.

Alkaline Batteries

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

After thousands of experiments involving metals and other materials in an attempt to create a lighter, reliable, more powerful storage battery for the electric cars of the time, Edison discovered an alkaline solution, which produced a longer lasting battery. Though gasoline powered cars took over the market before the battery's completion thanks to Henry Ford, it was nevertheless hugely successful in industrial applications and one of Edison’s biggest moneymakers in later years.

"The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” 

Thanks, Mr. Edison, for empowering us all, and to everyone else: always remember, we at Mr. Electric® are here to help power your tomorrow, too!