Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio. He attended school for a very short period and was taught at home by his mother. At age 11, he showed a voracious appetite for knowledge and reading books on a wide range of subjects. Edison developed a process for self-education and learning independently that would serve him throughout his life. Unfortunately, from an early age, Edison developed a severe deafness, which ultimately left him almost 90% deaf. At age 12, he sold newspapers to passengers along the Grand Trunk Railroad line. Thomas then began publishing his own small newspaper with up-to-date articles, called the Grand Trunk Herald.
Edison had a big break when he saved a young boy on the railway track from being struck by a runaway train. His grateful father, J.U. Mckenzie, trained him as a telegraph operator. At the age of 19, Edison moved to Louisville, Kentucky to work as a telegraph operator for Western Union where he was able to spend most of his time working on inventions. He received his first patent in June 1, 1869 for the stock ticker which later earned him a considerable sum. In the 1870s, he sold the rights to the quadruplex telegraph to Western Union for $10,000 and by 1877, he developed the phonograph. On December 25, 1871, Edison married Mary Stilwell. They had three children.
After being granted a patent for the light bulb in January 1880, Edison set out to develop a company that would deliver the electricity to power and light the cities of the world. In 1884 Edison’s wife, Mary, died, and in 1886, he married Mina Miller. Over the next few decades, Edison transitioned to industrialist and business manager. On April 23, 1896, Edison became the first person to project a motion picture. He later developed a storage battery that could power an electric car. Thomas Edison held 1,093 US patents in his name and his developments greatly influenced life around the world. Thomas Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931, in his home, “Glenmont,” in West Orange, New Jersey. He was 84 years old.