50 Facts About Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is best known for his invention of the phonograph and the incandescent light bulb. And with over 1000 patents under his belt, it’s no surprise that Edison sits comfortably in the American hall of fame as one of the most famous inventors in history. He also knows a thing or two about teamwork. He was the first inventor to apply the principles of team-based organized science to the process of invention. But there’s a lot more to know about this man! Keep on reading to learn 50 facts about Thomas Edison. 

Fact 1: Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847. 

Fact 2: He was an American inventor and businessman.

Fact 3: He has been described as America’s greatest inventor. 

Fact 4: Edison was responsible for developing a lot of devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures.

Fact 5: He’s best known for his invention of the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, and the practical electric light bulb.

Fact 6: Edison was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork to the process of invention. 

Fact 7: He worked with his employees and a lot of researchers to create new useful inventions. 

Fact 8: Edison also established the first industrial research laboratory.

Fact 9: In 1876, Thomas Edison established his first laboratory facility in Menlo Park, New Jersey. 

Fact 10: The Menlo Park lab was significant in that it was one of the first laboratories to pursue practical, commercial applications of research. 

Fact 11: The Menlo Park lab is also where Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and developed a commercially viable incandescent light bulb filament. 

Fact 12: His parents were Samuel and Nancy Edison. 

Fact 13: Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. 

Fact 14: He was also the youngest of seven children. 

Fact 15: Thomas’ father was an exiled political activist from Canada.

Fact 16: His mother was an accomplished school teacher. 

Fact 17: Edison has a total of 1093 patents for his inventions under his belt. 

  • 389 for electric light and power, 195 for the phonograph, 150 for the telegraph, 141 for storage batteries, and 34 for the telephone. 

Fact 18: Edison was completely deaf in his left ear, and 80% deaf in the other.

Fact 19: Thomas began to experiment with chemicals in the basement of his home. 

Fact 19: When Edison was 14, he contracted scarlet fever. 

Fact 20: The effect of the scarlet fever, as well as a blow to the head by an angry train conductor, caused Edison to become completely deaf in his left ear, and 80% deaf in the other. 

Fact 21: In 1854, Edison’s family moved to Port Huron, Michigan.

Fact 22: In Port Huron, he attended public school for only 12 weeks. 

Fact 23: Edison was deemed “difficult” by his teacher due to his hyperactivity and tendency to get easily distracted while he was at school in Port Huron. 

Fact 24: Edison’s first major invention was the phonograph. 

  • The phonograph is a device for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound. It was the first machine that was able to record and playback sound.

Fact 25: At the age of sixteen he became a telegraph operator at the telegraph office in Port Huron.

Fact 26: Like most of his other ventures, his job as a telegraph operator cam to an end when Edison almost blew up the office while experimenting with the equipment. 

Fact 27: After that incident as a telegraph operator he travelled around the country for five years, mostly working as a telegraph operator at different offices.  

Fact 28: On November 4, 1879, Thomas Edison filed for a U.S. patent for the first commercially practical incandescent light.

Fact 29: Long before Thomas Edison patented and began commercializing his incandescent light bulb, British inventors had already demonstrated that electric light was possible with the arc lamp.

Fact 30: He founded the Edison Illuminating Company in December 17, 1880.

Fact 31: The company was the first investor-owned electric utility in 1882 on Pearl Street Station, New York City.

Fact 32: Edison used to work 18 hours a day, only having 4 hours of sleep. 

Fact 33: Edison used to print newspapers on board the train he worked on when he was just 15 years old. 

Fact 34: He once earned the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park”.

Fact 35: Edison soon became known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park” because of the miraculous nature of his inventions which so radically changed how people lived. 

Fact 36: In 1881, he received the French Legion of Honour for his electric power system.

Fact 37: Automobile magnate Henry Ford used to work for Thomas Edison as an engineer in the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit. 

Fact 38: Ford also lived a few hundred feet away from Edison at his winter retreat in Fort Myers.  

Fact 39: On October 18, 1931, Edison died in his home from complications of diabetes. 

Fact 40: He died in his home “Glenmont” in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey, which he had purchased in 1886 as a wedding gift for his second wife Mina.  

Fact 41: Edison married his first wife, Mary Stilwell on December 25, 1871 after dating for just 2 months. 

Fact 42: He was 24 when he married his wife, while Stilwell, his wife, was only 16 years old.

Fact 43: He and his wife Mary went on to have three children: Marion Estelle Edison, Thomas Alva Edison Jr., and William Leslie Edison.

Fact 44: Sadly, Mary, his wife, died at the young age of 29 from a suspected brain tumour in 1884. 

Fact 45: Edison later married his second wife Mina Miller who was 19 years his junior in 1886. 

Fact 46: Edison and Mina’s son Theodore Edison would also take up an inventive life.

Fact 47: On April 23, 1896, Edison became the first person to project a motion picture.

Fact 48: Edison held the first film screening at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City. The Edison Vitascope brought projection to the United States and established the format for American film exhibition for the next several years.

Fact 49: During World War I, Edison headed up the Naval Consulting Board. 

Fact 50: Edison worked on several projects during World War I, these projects revolved around submarine detectors and gun-location techniques. 


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