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Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison has more patents than almost anyone in the world, holding 1,093 in the US alone. He was the first inventor to manufacture his products in a factory, making them widely available. In 1877, he is credited with inventing the use of "hello" in answering the telephone.


The Kinetoscope is the father of the modern movie player. Edison had the idea in 1888 and the first Kinetoscope had a public showing in 1893. The first movie to ever get a U.S. copyright was shown on the Kinescope, lasted five seconds and was called “Fred Ott's Sneeze."


Incandescence is when some metals glow as an electrical current passes through them. People had been trying to make an incandescent light for almost a century before Edison came along. He settled on carbon, but one of Edison's first light bulb designs featured a piece of carbonized bamboo.


A phonograph records and replays sound. Edison's design lasted until 1912, when the record and the record player were invented. Surprisingly, the technology hasn't changed much in over 100 years. That's part of the fun, because serious music fans still collect and play records, all thanks to Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison as young man

Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. He hated school and dropped out, so his mother home-schooled him. His family moved to Michigan to follow the railroad boom and he took a job as a telegraph operator. His skills with gadgets and machines helped him in that job, inspiring his first patent: a voice recorder in 1869.