Born in 1847 - Died in 1931
Thomas Alva Edison was called Alva, or Al by his family. He was a very
curious child. He was always asking questions. Even his mother, who
had once been a schoolteacher could not answer all his questions. He
would experiment to try to find the answers. Once he tried to hatch some
eggs by sitting on them. Another time he accidently burned down the
The teacher told someone she thought there was something
wrong with Alva; that he was "addled".
He told his mother and they
took him out of the school. He only went to school for 3 months in
his whole life. Afterwards, he was taught at home.
He wanted to experiment. To make money for his experiments, he went to
work at age 12 selling newspapers and candy on a train. When he had
some spare time on the train, he would do experiments in the baggage car.
When he was 16 he went to work for the telegraph office sending messages.
He became nearly deaf due to an injury to his ears. He later said he
didn't mind being deaf because it helped him to concentrate.
When he was 22 years old he went to New York. He only had $1 in his pocket.
He hunted for a job during the day, and at night he slept in the basement
of a gold company. He watched everything around him very closely.
Some equipment broke down and Edison was able to fix it because he had
been watching it work before he went to sleep each night. The owners
gave him a job. He improved the machine so much the company
paid him $40,000 for his invention. He started the American Telegraph
Works in New Jersey.
He built a laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was here with his
employees he made many of his inventions. He would work night after
night, and sometimes he would fall asleep at his workbench. His wife
wouldn't see him for days at a time.
He and his team worked to make a light bulb which would burn for a
long time without burning out. They tried 1,500 materials and nothing
worked well. Finally he tried a new material in the filament that
burned nearly 200 hours.
After he had made the light bulb, he worked to make a power system
so people could use the bulb. In 1882 he flipped a switch and
85 houses in New York City had electric lights for the first time.
Thomas Edison was probably the world's greatest inventor. He had a
patent on 1,093 inventions. In addition to the electric light, he also
invented the phonograph, a camera to take motion pictures, a cement mixer,
the automatic telegraph, and he improved
Alexander Graham Bell's telephone.
This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2001.
Other Activities View a slideshow about Thomas Edison
Play an Online Game at Quia
From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster
(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)
Inflected Form: addled
: to make or become confused...
: an electric device or system for sending messages
by a code
over wires ...
: an instrument that reproduces sound recorded on a grooved
: a single thread or a thin flexible threadlike object, process, or
part: as a : a wire (as in a light bulb) that is made to glow by the
passage of an electric current...
: having devices or mechanisms (as timers) that permit
operation without help from a person, (automatic washer)...
Edison's Miracle of Light
Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum
from the Smithsonian
Timeline of Edison's life
Edison After Forty
from American History
Thomas Alva Edison
at the Library of Congress
Thomas A. Edison Papers
Thomas Edison Timeline
(See topics in the right-hand column)
School for Champions
Inventors and Inventions
at Kid Info
Famous Americans Coloring Pages
from Enchanted Learning
Incandescent Light Bulb
history of the light bulb
Questions and Answers about Edison
National Park Service
Thomas Edison versus Nikola Tesla
Who is more productive?
Arc Lights (audio)
The Vacuum Tube (audio)
Edison's Big Failure (audio)
Edison's Golden Years (audio)
Engines of Our Ingenuity.
At biography.com search for Thomas Edison.
Scroll the panel for the "Video & Audio Results".
Press "Go" to search for books about Thomas Edison
A LIBRARY OF
Thomas Edison for kids: his life and ideas : 21 activities
ONLINE BOOKS and BOOK PREVIEWS
Order the following books from Amazon.
by Laurie Carlson (selected pages) Order here )
A Picture Book of Thomas Edison
by Alexandra Wallner (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison, First Biographies
by Lola M. Schaefer (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison, Trailblazer of the Modern World
by Richard Hantula (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison: the wizard inventor
by Haydn Middleton (review, but no page views) Order here
Thomas Edison: The Man Who Lit Up the World
by Martin Woodside (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison, Kids Can Read Level 3
by Elizabeth MacLeod, Andrej Krystoforski (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison (Essential Lives)
by Charles E. Pederson (selected pages) Order here
by Rebecca Gomez (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison: And the Developers of Electromagnetism
by Elizabeth R. Cregan (selected pages) Order here
Young Thomas Edison
by Sterling North (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison and the Light Bulb (Weekly Reader)
by Monica L. Rausch (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison and the Lightbulb (Graphic Library)
by Scott R. Welvaert (selected pages) Order here
From Telegraph to Light Bulb with Thomas Edison
by Deborah Hedstrom-Page, Deborah Hedstrom, Sergio Martinez (selected pages) Order here
by Rebecca Olien (selected pages) Order here
by Carole Marsh (selected pages) Order here
Thomas A. Edison: An Inspiring Story for Boys
written in 1931 by Francis Trevelyan Miller (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison Invents the Light Bulb (Reader's Theater)
by Susan Shafer (selected pages) Order here
Using Biographies in the Classroom
by Garth Sundem, Shell Education, See Sample pages
Great Scientists and Discoveries
by Ron Shaw (selected pages) Order here
The Picture History of Great Inventors
by Gillian Clements (selected pages) Order here
Thomas Edison, Compass Point Books
by Lucia Raatma (selected pages)
by Shannon Zemlicka, Shannon Knudsen (selected pages)
Thomas Edison, Photo Illustrated Biographies
by Greg Linder (selected pages)
Thomas Edison, Inventor, Scientist, and Genius
by Lori Mortensen, Jeffrey Thompson (selected pages)
Thomas Edison, Inventor of the Age of Electricity
by Linda Tagliaferro (selected pages)
Thomas Edison, Young Inventor
by Sue Guthridge (selected pages)
Young Thomas Edison
by Michael Dooling (selected pages)
Credits and Solutions
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise
and Armored Penguin
* Word Match Solution
Light bulb courtesy Wikipedia
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