Bright Ideas:
Thomas Edison's Inventions
By Michael Bogues

Thomas Edison was born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio.   He was the youngest of seven kids in his family.  He and his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan when he was seven.  Most of his sisters and brothers were adults, so Thomas Edison was the only child that lived at home.  Thomas Edison did not do well in school because he was partially deaf.  His mother pulled him out of public school and taught him.  Thomas Edison did experiments all around the house, then his mother sent him to the basement where he created his first lab.  Thomas Edison's dad helped him get a job at the railroad when he was only twelve years old.  The railroad was where Thomas learned Morse code that was used on the telegraph.  Thomas Edison first lab and job would be the start of his bright ideas, experiments, and inventions.

Thomas Edison as a kid

When Thomas Edison became a young adult, he made his first invention called the electric voting machine.  Thomas Edison developed this invention to make voting in the legislature faster.  Votes "yes' or "no" could be registered at the push of a button that used eletrical principals and mechanics to work.   

Electric Voting Machine or Recorder

Thomas Edison invented many more important things such as the stock printer, quadreplex telegraph that allowed two messages to be sent with the telegraph, a carbon transmitter that improved the telephone, the phonograph that allowed the first sound recording and the kinetograph and kinetoscope, which are the first early motion picture devices.  He worked with Henry Ford on a electric battery for cars too. Thomas Edison had about 1, 069 patents, which is the most patents filed by any person, even

His most famous invention is the light bulb.Thomas came up with creating the light bulb when returning from a trip out west with other scientist. He and the scientist stopped and watched the Platte River
flowing by. Thomas Edison stated out loud why the river flow couldn’t be used to provide electricity to miners working nearby. When Thomas Edison's friend heard this, he told him that he knew another scientist who had found a way to use the power of electricity to light up eight arcs of light. An arc light creates light using an electric current and carbon rods. This story fascinated Thomas Edison. He wanted to be the first to create an light source that was not too bright and hot, and that was a great price for the average household to buy.

Thomas Edison came up with his idea by studying other scientist arc light bulbs.  His light bulb design used an electric current that was sent through two wires that was connected to carbonized cotton thread filament.  The electric current heated the carbonized cotton thread filament, which made the filament glow. Thomas Edison had to try many times to find the right material to use for the filament that would keep the light burning for a number of hours.The carbonized cotton thread filament was the best because the light bulb burned all night and all the next day.   He tested the light bulb to see how long the light bulb would last.  Then he started thinking about how to measure electricty so people could pay for it, and how to build a support system to send electricty to people's houses.  He got help from a team of college-trained electrical engineers to build the electric system.

Thomas Edison Light Bulb Patent Application

Thomas Edison Light Bulb

Thomas Edison had many bright ideas and invented many things using those ideas. Many of Thomas Edison's inventions like the kinetograph and the kinescope led to today's movies and motion pictures.  But his greatest invention, that has been improved and that we still use today, is the light bulb. 

Thomas Edison an inventor with 1,000's of patents.


Adkins, Jan.  Thomas Edison. DK Publishing, 2009

Frith, Margaret.  Illustrated by John O'Brien.  Who Was Thomas Alva Edison? The Penguin Group, 2005

Woodside, Martin.  Thomas A. Edison, The Man Who Lit Up the World Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2007

Picture Credits

Thomas Edison as a kid. ...and illustrations » Blog Archive » Thomas Edison as a child,

Electronic Vote Recorder. Vote Recorder - The Edison Papers,

Thomas Edison's Patent Application for the Light Bulb,

Thomas Edison Light Bulb.  Thomas Edison Light Bulb Diagram,

Thomas Edison an inventor with 1000's of patents.  Thomas Edison , greatest inventors , inventor of bulb , inventor of ...,


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