Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an important American inventor and businessman at the end of the XIXth century and the beginning of the XX th century. He was known also as „the magicien of Menlo Park”, being the most prolific inventor of his epoque by applying the scientific discoveries (1903 patents ). He is an autodidact but this fact didn’t impede him to achieve inventions in the fields of electricity (filament bulb), telelphony, multiple transmission of telegrams, mechanical registration of sound (phonograph) and cinematography –kinetoscope.
For his talent The American Academy of Science awarded him in 1895 “ Rumford Prize” for the activity in the field of electricity and in 1915 “ Franklin Medal” for his contribution to the good of mankind .
Edison has born in Milan, Ohio, U.S.A and he passed his childhood in Michigan. In adolescence he was partially deaf but this didn’t impede him to become a telegraph operator in 1860’s years. His first inventons were related to the telegraph.. In his adolescence Edison worked also in other fields selling meals and sweets in trains. His first patent was obtained in October 28, 1868 having as object an automatic vote-recording machine.
In 1872 he invented and tested the duplex
telegraph for sending two messages over a single wire simultaneously.
In 1877 he invented the phonograph , the first apparatus for recording amd also reproducing sounds .
In 1878 he improved the Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone (amplifying the voice by means of the induction currents) and using the microphone invented by, Hughes he patented the telephone with induction coil to which he added the electrical calling bell.
In 1879 he invented incandescent bulb and in 1880 he achieved the first electrical distribution by installing an electrical central on the trans-Atlantic packet ship“Columbia”, which was the first electrically lighted ship.
In 1880 he proposed a project for using the electrical traction on railways.
On September 4, 1882 in New York, Thomas Alva Edison started the first electrical central for suplying the City’s buildings.
In 1883 he discovered the effect having his name , the Edison’s effect , refering to the electrons emission by heated metals, known as the phenomenon of termoelectric emission . He dicovered this phenomenon incidentally : introducing a little meatllic plate into an incandescent bulb he noted that if the plate was connected to the positive pole of the supplying source a galvanometer in circuitry indicated the passing of an electric current and if the plate was connected to the negative pole the indication remained at 0. For the moment he didn’t pay any attention to this fact but he noted it. The phenomenon was studied thereafter by the physicist John Ambrose Fleming, and thus the bases of electronics were established.
In 1892 he invented an apparatus for taking sights for moving objects or men using a celluloyd tape of 35 mm perforated on the edges. The first attempts, made in laboratory with 15 images per second didn’t give satisfactory results for the moment.
In 1894 he invented kinetoscope – the first device which could reproduce moving images with a frequency of 46 images per second – but this apparatus allowed the film be seen only by a single person The apparatus used the tapes perforated on the edges where the images lighted by transparency could be watched through a lentil. The first public “show ” took place in a hall on Broadway, and thereafter the apparatus was produced in series and marketed.
In 1912 he achieved a protoptype of sound films combining the cinema per see with phonograph. The results were spectacular .
In 1914 he improved the alkaline battery with plates of iron and of nickel introduced in an aqueous solution of potassium or sodium hydroxide as an electrolyte invented by the German inventor Jungner in 1901.
Although he had enough own inventions, Edison didn’t shrink to attributing himself the result of others’ work, two examples being eloquent in this respect :
* The Serbian Nicolae Teslea (Nikola Tesla). In 1885, Edison electric generator of the trans-Atlantic “Oregon” was spoiled. The trans-Atlantic had to leave in time because coming late might have caused great losses to the ship owners. Edison Company charged Teslea to repair the generator’s short-circuit, the defect being in the spires of the excitation winding ; Teslea rewinded the spool in 20 hours. Edison had promised to Teslea a prize of 50.000 dolars for repairing the defect such that the ship can leave in time. The ship leaved at the establishd date but the promise for prize was transformed in explanations : it was a joke. Other promised bonuses such that those for improving the Edison electric generators and motors in 24 embodiments provided with a regulator and a new type of switch were not granted. Being convinced on Edison’s behaviour,Teslea worked then by his own and finished his orignal system based upon polyphased alternating currents. The passing time gave reason to Teslea in the competition with Edison and his thesis on the alternate current is recognized . […]
Edison and Teslea were proposed together to divide the Nobel prize for physics in 1915, as scientists who dedicated their lives for discoveries and technical achievements useful for mankind. Teslea refused the prize because the animosities from the past. But it was in 1916 and that year the prize was no more awarded because of the world war.…” (Formula As)
* Georges Méliès. In 1902, after finishing the film “Le voyage dans la lune”, Méliès intended to sell it in U.S.A. that would have yielded great profits But the technicians of Thomas Alva Edison stolen an original copy and already had made copies for difusing this film. The film was showed on screen in the whole America through the Edison’s movie halls network after a few weeks from releasing . Edison made a fortune from the theft of this Méliès film also because of the lack of a copyright law . For this reason the film producer couldn’t recover the investition and became insolvent.
* Moreover , there are a series of inventions and ideas of his employers which Edison had atributed to himself. (Robert Conot – “Thomas A. Edison: A Streak of Luck”).