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“Thomas Alva Edison” 


Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an
inventor and businessman who developed many important devices. "The
Wizard of Menlo Park" was one of the first inventors to apply the
principles of mass production to the process of invention. In 1880
Edison founded the journal Science, which in 1900 became the journal of
the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Edison is
considered one of the most prolific inventors, holding a record 1,093
patents in his name. Most of these inventions were not completely
original but improvements of earlier patents, and were actually works of
his numerous employees. Edison was frequently criticized for not sharing
the credit. Nevertheless, Edison received patents worldwide, including
the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Edison started
the Motion Picture Patents Company, which was a conglomerate of nine
major film studios (commonly known as the Edison Trust).

Family background

Thomas Alva Edison's ancestors, the Dutch Edesons, emigrated to New
Jersey in 1730. John Edeson remained loyal to England when the colonies
revolted (see United Empire Loyalists). That got him arrested and nearly
hanged. He and his family fled to Nova Scotia, Canada, settling on land
the colonial government gave those who had been loyal to Britain. In
1811, three generations of Edisons took up farming near Vienna, Ontario.
Among them was Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. (1804-1896), an erstwhile
shingle maker, tailor, and tavern keeper from Marshalltown, Nova Scotia.
He married Nancy Matthews Elliott, of Chenango County, New York. In
1837, Samuel Edison was a rebel in the MacKenzie Rebellion that sought
land reform and autonomy from Great Britain. The revolt failed and, like
his grandfather before him, Samuel Edison was forced to flee for his
life. Unlike his grandfather, he went south across the American border
instead of north. He settled first in Port Huron, Michigan, temporarily
leaving his wife Nancy and children behind.


Thomas Edison was born in 1847 in Milan, Ohio to Samuel Ogden Edison,
Jr. and Nancy Matthews Elliott (1810-1871). Thomas was their seventh
child. When he was seven years old the family moved to Port Huron,

Early years

Edison had a late start in his schooling due to childhood illness. His
mind often wandered and shortly into his schooling, his teacher
Alexander Crawford, was overheard calling him "addled". This ended
Edison's three-months of formal schooling. His mother had been a school
teacher in Canada and happily took over the job of schooling her son in
his academics. She encouraged and taught him to read and experiment. He
recalled later, "My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so
sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not
disappoint.". Many of his lessons came from reading R.G. Parker's School
of natural philosophy'.

Edison's life in Port Huron was bittersweet. Partially deaf since
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