“He led no armies into battle, he conquered no countries, and he enslaved no peoples… Nonetheless, he exerted a degree of power the magnitude of which no warrior ever dreamed. His name still commands a respect as sweeping in scope and as world-wide as that of any other mortal – a devotion rooted deep in human gratitude and untainted by the bias that is often associated with race, color, politics, and religion.”
Thomas Edison rose from humble beginnings to work as an inventor of major technology, many of which are either still used today or have preceded many other inventions. He created such great innovations as the telegraph, phonograph, electric light bulb, alkaline storage batteries and Kinetograph (a camera for motion pictures). A savvy businessman, he held more than a 1,000 patents for his inventions. Edison became the first person to project a motion picture, holding the world’s first motion picture screening at Koster & Bial’s Music Hall in New York City.
Young Edison attended public school for a total of 12 weeks. His teachers thought of him as difficult because of his hyperactivity and inability to concentrate. As a result, he was home-schooled; Edison developed a process for self-education and learning independently that would serve him throughout his life.
After the failure of his first invention, the electric vote recorder, at the age of 22, he was paid $40,000 for the rights for his first invention, the Universal Stock Printer, which synchronized several stock tickers’ transactions. After such success, he quit his work as a telegrapher to devote himself full-time to inventing.
On a couple of occasions, Edison was able to turn failure into success. When he invented a magnetic iron-ore processing plant that was a commercial failure, he salvaged the process into a better method for producing cement.
After receiving a patent for the light bulb, Edison developed a company that would deliver the electricity to power and light the cities of the world, the Edison Illuminating Company—the first investor-owned electric utility—which later became the General Electric Corporation.
“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison