Thomas Edison and His Inventions
Thomas Alva Edison was one of the greatest inventors in history. He held thousands of patents for his inventions in over 30 countries. The United States Patent Office alone issued Edison 1,093 patents. Among his inventions was an electric light bulb, the phonograph, and motion pictures, all shown on this page. Some scientists and historians, however, believe that Edison’s greatest achievement was his development of the research laboratory. Edison worked with a team of different specialists to produce his creations. His precise manner is illustrated by his famous quote: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
The idea of “moving pictures” was not Edison’s, but his “Kinetoscope,” shown below, made movies practical.
Commonplace today, a device for recording sound did not exist until Thomas Edison invented it. He first demonstrated his phonograph in 1877.
Edison and his team are working on an electric light bulb in this painting. Edison’s inventions often developed from existing technologies. Many people were working on an electric light bulb, but Edison made it practical.
Through trial and error, the Wright brothers designed wings that provided lift and balance in flight. Their design is based on principles that are still used in every aircraft.
Automobile Assembly Line
Ford’s major innovation was to improve efficiency in his factory. By introducing the assembly line, he reduced the time it took to build a car from 12.5 to 1.5 worker-hours.
Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the first telephone in 1876. It quickly became an essential of modern life. By 1900, there were 1.4 million telephones in the United States. By 1912, there were 8.7 million.
1. What did Edison mean when he said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration”?
2. Which of Edison’s inventions shown on this page do you think has had the most influence?