Thomas Alva Edison is one of the most highly regarded American inventors whose creations helped to enhance the lives of people . He was born in Milan, Ohio . As a child, Thomas Edison was a dreamer . Experimenting and reading were his favorite pastimes .
You only have to look around you to see things that Thomas Alva Edison invented or made better . The prolific inventor ( in his 84 years, Edison had 1,093 patents to his name ) contributed to the incandescent light bulb, phonograph, electrical systems, motion picture camera, telegraph, telephone, X - ray
Edison was an inquisitive child but a poor student as his mind often wandered . The youngest of 7 siblings, " Al " as he was called in his youth, was deemed " addled " by his school teacher .
When she found out, Edison’s mother was angry and pulled him out of school after only three months of formal education . She home schooled him instead . Edison later recounted " My mother was the making of me . She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had some one to live for, some one I must not disappoint . "
When Edison turned 9, his mother gave him an elementary science book on how to do chemistry experiments at home . Edison was hooked : he did every experiments in the book and soon spent all his spare money buying chemicals .
At the tender age of 10, Edison built his first science laboratory in the basement of his family’s home . His father tried to bribe him with a penny if only Edison would get out of the basement and go read a book . This he did, but he also used the penny to buy more chemicals for experiments . And to make sure no one took his prized chemicals, he labeled all his bottles “poison”
At around the age of 12, Edison started to lose his hearing . One legend has it that a train conductor smacked him in the ears after he started a fire in a boxcar by doing experiments . Edison himself said that he was injured when the conductor picked him up by the ears onto a moving train . Others had said that it caused by a bout of scarlet fever during childhood . In all likelihood it was a genetic condition as both Edison’s father and one of his brothers also suffered from hearing loss .
But one thing’s for sure : Edison actually liked being deaf
(technically, he was hard of hearing , not completely deaf ).
He said that it made it easier for him to concentrate on his experiments .
Oh, one more thing : Edison actually did have a laboratory in a boxcar that caught on fire ! Then 12-year - old Edison took a job selling newspaper and candies on the Grand Trunk Railroad from Port Huron to Detroit . He set up a lab for chemistry experiments and a printing press in the baggage car, where he published the Grand Trunk Herald , the first newspaper published on a train .
At the Grand Trunk Railroad, 14-year - old Edison saved 3-year - old Jimmie Mackenzie from a runaway boxcar . Jimmie’s father, station agent J . U . Mackenzie was so grateful that he taught Edison how to operate the telegraph machine .
Later, Edison became a telegraph operator for Western Union . He requested the night shift so he could have more time for his experiments . One day he accidentally spilled sulphuric acid while experimenting on a battery . The acid ran between the floorboards and onto his boss’ desk below . Needless to say, Edison was fired the next morning
In 1869, when Edison was just 22 years old, he got his first patent for a telegraphic vote - recording machine for the legislature . Each legislator would move a switch on Edison’s machine that would record his vote on a particular bill .
When a business partner brought the invention to Washington D . C . , this is what Congress had to say about it :
The chairman of the committee, unimpressed with the speed with which the instrument could record votes, told him that " if there is any invention on earth that we don’t want down here, that is it ." The slow pace of roll call voting in Congress and other legislatures enabled members to filibuster legislation or convince others to change their votes . Edison’s vote recorder was never used . From then on, Edison decided that he would only invent something if there was a market for it .
According to a 1911 policy with the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, Edison had five dots tattooed on his left forearm . No one knew what the dots meant .
Interestingly, Edison was credited for inventing the basic tattoo machine . In 1876, he patented the Stencil - Pens , an engraving device that many years later was modified by Samuel O’Reilly to make the world’s first tattoo machine .
Though it would’ve been a neat thing, there was simply no evidence that Edison used his invention to give himself a tattoo .