Thomas Alva Edison (born February 11, 1847 - death date October 18, 1931) is an American inventor and businessman who greatly influenced 20th century life with his inventions. Edison is described as one of the most important and productive inventors in history with the American patent named after him. Most of its patents have approvals from Germany, France and England, as well as in the USA. Also, his nickname is The Wizard of Menlo Park.
Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. He is the youngest of seven siblings. His father Samuel "The Iron Shovel" Edison, Jr. (1804–1896) (Canada), and his mother is Nancy Matthews Elliott (1810–1871). He is thought to be Dutch. When he was 7 years old, he and his family settled in Port Huron, Michigan, where he started his primary education; but he was suspended from school about 4 months after he started because of his slow perception. Meanwhile, he set up a chemistry laboratory in their home cellar. He was particularly interested in chemistry experiments and research on obtaining electric current from Volta vessels. After a while, he built a telegraph device on his own and learned Morse code. As a result of a severe illness he had in those days, his ears started to hear hard. At the age of 12, he was selling magazines and fruit on a train, while printing a weekly newspaper with a small printing machine where he placed the train's freight car. But one day, when one of the things containing chemicals broke and a fire broke out in the wagon, Edison both lost his job on the train and was injured in such a way that it caused heavy hearing for life. Edison, who later decided to learn telegraphy, worked in several telegraph houses in the USA and Canada between 1863-1868. He set up a workshop in 1868, but when he could not sell the patent for the electric recording device he had made, he left Boston to New York, free and in debt a year later.
In the 1880s, Fort Myers bought a plot of land in Florida and later built himself a small house to stay there in the winter. Henry Ford, the great man of the auto industry, recently moved a few hundred meters from Edison's house. So Edison and Ford remained friends until his death. February 24, 1886 Edison made his second marriage to 20-year-old Mina Miller. He also had three children from this marriage:
- Madeleine Edison, John Eyre Sloane
- Charles Edison, (became manager of New Jersey after his father died.)
- Theodore Edison.
In 1879 Edison invented an electric light bulb. After experimenting with flames from charred yarn, he settled on carbonized paper filament. In 1880, he began to produce light bulbs that could be used safely at home, selling them for 2,5 dollars a piece. However, in 1878, Joseph Wilson Swan, an English scientist, also invented an electric light bulb. The bulb was glass and contained a charred filament inside. Swan blew the air out of the bulb; because the filament did not burn out in an airless environment. These two scientists decided to join forces and founded Edison and Swan Electric Lighting Company.
In 1883 he made what was called the Edison effect, which was the biggest invention of his life; that is, found the electron emission of a heated filament in the molecular space. This event, which he discovered in 1883, formed the basis of hot cathode tubes. Later he managed to improve the production of the incandescent lamp. This enabled the light bulb to become widespread among the public.
Edison and Nikola Tesla
When he met Thomas Edison, who was busy looking for a market for an incandescent lamp in his first laboratory on Pearl Street in New York, Nikola Tesla explained the alternating current system he had found, with youthful excitement. "You are wasting your time on theory," said Edison.
Tesla tells Edison about his work and the alternating current scheme. Edison is not too interested in alternating current and gives Tesla a task.
Although Tesla did not like the task given to him by Edison, he completed the task in a few months when he learned that Edison would give him $ 50.000. He solved the problems in the direct current plant. When he demands the fee that Edison had promised him, Edison said to his surprise, "he can understand American jokes when he begins to think like a complete American" and does not pay a fee. Tesla resigns immediately. The short duration of collaboration will be followed by a prolonged competition.
Edison's most important discovery was Menlo Park, the first industrial research laboratory in New Jersey. It was the first institution established for the specific purpose of making continuous technological discoveries and improvements. Edison officially produced many of his inventions in this laboratory, and many of his employees took part in the research and development of these inventions in line with his directives.
Electrical engineer William Joseph Hammer began his duty as Edison's laboratory assistant in December 1879. He made great contributions to telephone, phonograph, electric train, iron metal separator, electric lighting, and many other inventions. What makes the Hammer special is its work in the invention of the electric light bulb and during the development and testing of this tool. Hammer became the chief engineer of Edison's lamp works in 1880, and in his first year in this position, the factory where Francis Robbins Upton was the general manager produced 50.000 bulbs. According to Edison, the Hammer is a precursor of the incandescent light bulb. It has nearly 1000 patents.
Thomas Edison died of diabetes complications on October 18, 1931 at his home in Glenmont, West Orange, Llewellyn Park, New Jersey, at 03:21. Edison is buried behind his house. In the city where he lived in memory of his death, the lights were turned off for 1 minute.