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Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Generally regarded as the most prolific inventor of all time, Thomas Edison held an amazing 1,093 patents. He was nicknamed the "Wizard of Menlo Park," in part because of his stunning success with the invention of the phonograph in 1877.

Thomas Edison was born in 1847 in Milan, Ohio He grew up in Port Huron, Michigan. There are many stories about what Edison was like as a child. They all show that from an early age, Edison was curious about the world around him and always tried to teach himself through reading and experiments. As a boy, Edison worked as a gatekeeper at his father's observatory for tourists, and worked on a railway selling newspapers and candy to passengers.

During his most inventive years, Edison conducted experiments at his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratory. He did not work alone. A team of talented workers assisted him all hours of the day and night. These men had the skills to make Edison's ideas and sketches into real devices of wood, wire, glass, and metal.

On December 31, 1879, Thomas Edison demonstrated his most famous invention: the first practical incandescent electric lamp. He was not, however, the first inventor to experiment with electric light. When Edison began testing possibilities for incandescent lamps, the arc light was already becoming popular for lighting streets, department stores, and other large areas. (reference)

Thomas Edison also founded the company Edison General Electric in 1878 which remains in business  even to this day manufacturing everything from light bulbs to appliance parts to trains in locations all over the globe.