Bio on Thomas Alva Edison

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Thomas Alva Edison was the most prolific inventor in American history. He amassed a record 1,093 patents covering key innovations and minor improvements in wide range of fields, including telecommunications, electric power, sound recording, motion pictures, primary and storage batteries, and mining and cement technology. As important, he broadened the notion of invention to encompass what we now call innovation-invention, research, development, and commercialization-and invented the industrial research laboratory. Edison's role as an innovator is evident not only in his two major laboratories at Menlo Park and West Orange in New Jersey but in more than 300 companies formed worldwide to manufacture and market his inventions, many of which carried the Edison name, including some 200 Edison illuminating companies.
Early Life
Edison was born in 1847 in the canal town of Milan, Ohio, the last of seven children. His mother, Nancy, had been a school teacher; his father, Samuel, was a Canadian political firebrand who was exiled from his country. The family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, when Thomas was seven. He attended school briefly but was principally educated at home by his mother and in his father's library.
In 1859 Edison began working on a local branch of the Grand Trunk Railroad, selling newspapers, magazines, and candy. At one point he printed a newspaper on the train, and he also conducted chemical experiments in a baggage-car laboratory. By 1862 he had learned enough telegraphy to be employed as an operator in a local office.
From 1863 to 1867 he traveled through the Midwest as an itinerant telegrapher. During these years he read widely, studied and experimented with telegraph technology, and generally acquainted himself with electrical science.
Early Inventive Career
In 1868 Edison became an independent inventor in Boston. Moving to New York the next…...

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