to Top

Thomas Edison

Born in 1847 - Died in 1931

Thomas Edison<BR>
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 family's barn.

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.

Take the online test

A frequent question:
"Who wrote this biography
and when was it written?"
Look on this Reference Citations Chart.


Online ActivitiesPrintable Activities
Take the Online Test for this Biography Print Test for this Biography
Online Jigsaw Puzzle Print Study Sheet
Online Crossword Puzzle Print Crossword Puzzle
  Print Word Search
Online Word Scramble Print Word Scramble
  Print Coloring
Online Jeopardy Print Alphabetical
Online Who Am I? Print Word Match
  Print Worksheet

Play an Online Game at Quia


From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

addled, addle
Pronunciation: 'ad-əl
Function: verb
Inflected Form: addled
: to make or become confused...

Pronunciation: 'tel-ə-'graf
Function: noun
: an electric device or system for sending messages
by a code over wires ...

Pronunciation: 'fO-nə-'graf
Function: noun
: an instrument that reproduces sound recorded on a grooved disk ...

Pronunciation: 'fil-ə-mənt
Function: noun
: 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...

Pronunciation: ot-ə-'mat-ik
Function: adjective
: having devices or mechanisms (as timers) that permit operation without help from a person, (automatic washer)...

Research Links

Edison's Miracle of Light PBS site

Thomas Edison Birthplace Museum


Edison Invents
from the Smithsonian

Early Motion Pictures

Edison After Forty
from American History

Thomas Alva Edison

A Day With Thomas A. Edison
at PBS

Thomas Edison
at the Library of Congress

Thomas A. Edison Papers

Thomas Edison Timeline
(See topics in the right-hand column)
School for Champions

Famous Americans Coloring Pages

More Inventors
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 search for Thomas Edison.
Scroll the panel for the "Video & Audio Results".


Press "Go" to search for books about Thomas Edison


Order the following books from Amazon.

Thomas Edison for kids: his life and ideas : 21 activities
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

Thomas Edison
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

Thomas Edison
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
Order here

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)

Thomas Edison
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

Page Comments
Most Recent Comments
See more comments about this page
Nice,but mind making it longer?
Kazuki Soma
i wish there were more people like him
what is the name of the organization that maintains the website

Garden of Praise if privately owned and maintained by the webmaster, Patsy Stevens with the help of her son and daughter-in-law.

Thanks! The information was really helpful .
thanks also go to thomas to this is good informasin
norman 11
This really helped with my project thanks
Leave a Comment View all Comments

This page displayed 513,005 times.

This is a mobile page of Garden of Praise. You are using a desktop computer. Try viewing the mobile pages on your smart phone.