Sickly and hard of hearing, young Thomas Alva Edison was not much of a student and left school when he was just a teen. Despite this rocky beginning, Edison went on to become a highly successful inventor with hundreds of patents to his name. He is still the all-time record holder of
© National Park Service
Thomas Edison built the world's first private research and development lab
when he was 29. The lab was eventually moved to West Orange, New Jersey.
As a boy,
At this "invention factory," Edison and his workers cranked out the movie camera, an improved storage battery, the fluoroscope, and rubber from the goldenrod plant. Despite being deaf, Edison's favorite invention was the phonograph. In 1877, while working on a device for recording messages over the telephone, Edison was inspired to invent a talking machine. The world's first recorded words were "Mary had a little lamb."
Many people mistakenly think that
For 50 years, scientists had been trying and failing to produce a reliable source of light by sending an electric current through a material inside a vacuum, causing it to glow. Scientists had been using a high current and low-resistance material. Edison discovered that highly resistant material would glow with a lower current and last longer. In 1879, he produced an incandescent lamp that burned for more than 13 hours, ushering in the age of electric light.
Edison National Historic Site Information
Address: Main Street and Lakeside Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
Telephone: 973/736-0550 or 973/324-9973
Hours of Operation: Friday through Sunday 12 noon - 5 p.m. year round
Admission: Adults $3; Under age 16 are Free
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based author who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.