Thomas Edison

We read a couple of children’s books about Thomas Edison last week. I especially enjoyed Young Thomas Edison by Micheal Dooling. The oil illustrations are beautiful. We also watched a A&E biography about Edison. Here are some quick facts that we learned about him.

Due to frequent illness as a child and boredom at school, his mother taught him at home.

He began losing his hearing at age 12, and it worsened as he aged.

As a boy, he held several jobs, some of which were selling candy, drinks, and papers on the daily train from Port Huron to Detroit. He set up his own printing press in the train and created his own paper. (News was an easy sell during the Civil War.) He was a “techie” telegraph operator as a teenager.
Though widely known as the inventor of the light bulb, Edison invented (or highly improved) many other things. He owned over 1200 patents. His other popular inventions included the phonograph (for which he was invited to the White House to give a demonstration), moving pictures, an improvement of the telegraph and telephone.

He was a workaholic; was married twice (his first wife died young); and had 6 children. He was not a family man. One of his daughters said she didn’t know she had a father until she was 6 years old. I wonder how much his hearing was a factor in his familial relations. He considered his lack of hearing an asset when it came to concentration on his work.

Edison would work on multiple projects at a time, often overlapping ideas and solutions.

He was adored by the American people and was perhaps America’s first celebrity as, at the time, there were no movie stars in the spotlight. Interestingly, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Thanks to Flickr’s Judy Breck for the photo.