Want to find out some interesting facts about Thomas Edison? Read on! At the end, review our question sheet in the Activity section to test your knowledge of this very famous inventor.
Thomas Edison was born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio. He was the youngest of seven children. Wow that’s a lot of brothers and sisters to have. He was one of the United States most well-known inventors. When he was a child he got scarlet fever, and this left him almost deaf.
He was nicknamed “Al” and although he was a very busy, curious boy, he struggled at school and often got into trouble. His teacher called him “addled,” which means slow or dim. Well, little did they know what would happen! Edison’s mother, Nancy Mathews Elliott was frustrated with the school and knew her son could learn, so instead she taught him at home after he left school.
He read books from the library and taught himself but learned to love reading and conducting experiments from his mother. He later remembered, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” Ah, that’s awesome!
Edison often entertained himself by taking things apart to see how they worked. Soon, he decided to become an inventor.
When Edison was twelve, he started publishing and selling a newspaper to passengers on the train. Wow, that’s clever. At age 15, he became a “tramp telegrapher”, sending and receiving messages via Morse code, an electronically-conveyed alphabet using different clicks for each letter. Morse code was used across the world by the military, shipping and the rail system where messages could be sent by wires.
Meanwhile, Edison married Mary Stillwell, had three children and moved his family to Menlo Park, New Jersey where he built his famous laboratory. He was called the “Wizard of Menlo Park” because of the many inventions and improvements that streamed out of the doors.
The secret of his success was not only about his creativity, but in his ability to create a workplace where he could spark the creative abilities of other people. He worked extremely hard and registered 1,093 patents. A patent is a document granting an inventor sole rights to an invention.
In 1877, Edison, with help from “muckers”, who were individuals around the world looking to make fortunes in America, he invented the phonograph. The phonograph was a machine that recorded the spoken voice and played it back by using the sound vibration of the voice which made a needle create indentations on a drum wrapped with tin foil.
Later, Edison would adopt cylinders and discs to permanently record music. He perfected the phonograph by recording “Mary had a Little Lamb” on a piece of tin foil! How awesome is that?
In 1878, Edison invented the light bulb for which he is most famous for. This is however, not entirely true as it had been around for a number of years, however he perfected it and make the light bulb practical and inexpensive through different means.
He also invented the world’s first talking doll and revolutionized the cement kiln industry. His inventions changed the world forever. They still influence the way we live today. He won countless awards and was very famous. Edison worked until his death, which was on October 18, 1931.
Test your knowledge of this subject with our quiz sheet! Questions about Thomas Edison (all answers found on this page)