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Thomas Alva Edison


Born in Milan, Ohio. He did poorly in school and was primarily taught by his mother. He sold magazines, newspapers, candy and tobacco on the railroad. A brakeman pulled him onto a train by the head causing injuries that led to lifelong deafness. He began as a telegraph operator in 1863. He began inventing devices associated with telegraphy at age 16. He invented a vote recorder and stock ticker patented in 1869. He produced the phonograph in 1877. His ability was not so much as an inventor as a developer of ideas. Married Mary G. Stillwell December 25, 1871. They had three children. She died in 1884.

Married Mina Miller 1886. They also had three children.

He was a partner in a firm of electrical engineers. He sold out in 1870 for enough money to start his own business employing 50 men. Moved to Menlo Park in 1876 and to West Orange, New Jersey in 1887. He died in West Orange.

Congress honored Edison with a gold medal by resolution May 29, 1928, "for development of inventions that have revolutionized civilization in the last century." The bill that authorized the medal failed to make an appropriation to pay for it. The Chamber of Commerce of Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey, wanted to present the medal October 24, 1928, on the 50th anniversary of the invention of the light bulb. The chamber offered to loan $1000 to the federal government so that the medal could be struck on time. It was executed by John Ray Sinnock.

Edison is honored on a silver dollar of 2004.

legal ref: Public Resolution 70-66, 45 Stat. 1012 bio: ApCAB; DAB; EAB; NCAB 25; TCBDA; WAB; WWWA-1

Source credit: Pete Smith, American Numismatic Biographies


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