Technology, United States, World

The Story of the Edison Era

 How would the world function if Thomas Edison, one of the most famous inventors, didn’t exist?  During the 1800s, the United States was known as the agriculture country with flourishing crops for society.  But, what people living in the 1800s didn’t know was they were about to be part of the most innovated era’s of US history. Imagine being a farmer in 1810 having to get up early and not being able to see anything, what do you do?  Would you light a candle?  What if you didn’t have a match, what would you do then?  The life of people living in the early 1800s consisted of working from sunrise to sunset, meaning once they could see their crops they would work and once they couldn’t see their land they would sleep. Without Edison’s inventions, we would still be living based on when the sun is out.  Of all the inventors that helped impact American lives today, Thomas Edison was the most famous with the inventions of the light bulb and the x-ray.

Thomas Edison’s childhood strongly impacted his life towards creating his inventions.  Born February 11, 1847, Edison, the youngest of seven, developed his own new process for self learning.  At the age of 12, Edison sold newspapers to passengers at the Grand Trunk Railroad.  While working at the station, Edison rescued a three year old boy from an oncoming train.  The three year old’s father could not express his gratitude enough so, he offered to teach Edison how to operate a telegraph.  During his 5 years of working as a telegraph operator traveling throughout the midwest, Edison became more and more familiar with electrical science.  Years later, while working on inventing a stock ticker, Gold and Stock Company paid Edison $40,000 for rights on the invention.  After receiving the patent for his invention, Edison decided to quit his job and devote his life to inventing.

 In 1876, Edison created his own independent industrial research facility in Menlo Park where he would later invent one of the most famous inventions in the world, the light bulb.  Edison’s lightbulb was often referred to as a “carbon or early tungsten filament lamp”.  After filing his first patent for “Improvement in Electric Lights”, he continued to test different ways to improve his original design.  By 1879, Edison filed another patent for his electric lamp using a “carbon filament or strip coiled and connected… to platina wires”.  Edison’s invention became the “perfect light bulb” following Davy’s electric lamp.  While improving his light bulb, a patent for an improved light bulb caught his eye.  That same year, Edison bought Woodward and Evans patent for the improved light bulb.  In 1880, Edison founded Edison Illuminating Company to deliver electricity to near places.

During the years of perfecting the light bulb, Edison created many other popular inventions. Edison was also known for inventing the telegraph, phonograph, alkaline storage batteries, and the x-ray.  The x-ray is one of the most important inventions in medicine today.  In the late 19th century, Edison’s laboratories and factories were a place of awe. The workers happily labored a total of 90 hours per week, drawn by the future. But they also faced the unknown exposure to chemicals, acids, electricity and light. Clarence Madison Dally knew this better than anyone.  Dally unwittingly gave his life to help create one of the most important medical inventions in history.  At age 24, Dally started working in the West Orange Laboratory where he assisted Edison in testing incandescent lamps.  While experimenting, the german physicist, Wilhelm Roentgen stumbled across an unknown type of radiation that would later be called the x-ray.  Edison received news of the discovery and immediately set out to experiment with his own fluorescent lamps. Equally astonished,  Dally helped perform countless tests, holding his hand between the fluoroscope, a cardboard viewing tube coated with fluorescent metal salt, and the X-ray tubes, and unwittingly exposing himself to poisonous radiation for hours on end.  Without Edison and Dally’s hard work with the radiation, medicine would be much different today, hospitals now are able to locate a broken bone anywhere thanks to Edison and Dally.

Overall, Thomas Edison is the most well-known inventor in the world.  Edison’s inventions have shaped American lives dramatically.  With over 1093 patents for inventions, Edison became the most successful man that transformed our world.  His rags-to-riches story has made him a folk hero around the globe.  So, wanna know how you would survive without his inventions?  Try spending a whole day without using any of his inventions and see if you can live like people did back in the 1800s.

Article by Brianna Soukup

Works Cited: Editors. “Thomas Edison”, A&E Television Networks, 4 Aug. 2017,

     edison-9284349. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.

“File:First medical X-ray by Wilhelm Röntgen of his wife Anna Bertha Ludwig’s hand – 18951222.gif.” Wikipedia,

     Accessed 2 Nov. 2017.

From coneption to invention, this is one of Thomas Edison’s early light bulbs. Edison Muckers, Edison Innovation Foundation, Accessed 2 Nov. 2017.

Josephson, Matthew, and Robert E. Conot. “Thomas Alva Edison AMERICAN INVENTOR.” Encyclopedia Brittanica, 10 July 2017, Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.

“Thomas Edison.”, A&E Networks, 2009, Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.

Thomas Edison in his West Orange laboratory. Business Insider, Allure Media,

    2014-5. Accessed 2 Nov. 2017.

Comments are closed.