The Wizard of Menlo Park!

A precocious and hyperactive child, Thomas Edison was not appreciated by his teachers in school. They described him as a youngster whose brains were “addled” or scrambled.  But if he were a child today he may be simply diagnosed with ADHD.

Never the less, his mother took young Tom out of school when he was seven and began to teach him at home. At age twelve he began questioning his parents about the principles of physics and, despite their efforts, they were not able to satisfy his ever increasing thirst for knowledge; so they took what little money they had and hired a tutor.

Tom had difficulty hearing throughout his life. Believed to be inherited and worsened by a bought of scarlet fever; he would ultimately lose all the hearing in his left ear and 80% in his right.  But Tom adapted to the things he felt were out of his control and he ultimately believed that his loss of hearing enabled him to focus more on his study without the distraction of outside noise.

In 1869, when he was twenty two, Edison moved to New York, after borrowing $35.00 from a friend. This was an effort to make money in the “more commercially oriented city of New York,” because his parents were struggling financially and about to lose their own home.


As fate would have it Tom found himself walking through one of the financial offices, on the verge of starving, when he saw that a stock-ticker had broken down and the office manager was in a panic. Tom moved through the crowed and was able to quickly determine the reason for the malfunction and correct it.  The manager hired him on the spot to make any and all repairs for $300 a month.

A constant moonlight tinkerer, Edison eventually improved on the design and function of the stock-ticker. The Gold and Stock Telegraph Company purchased the rights for this invention for $40,000.  This was Edison’s first lucrative invention and the start of incessant passion that would change the world.

In 1870 Edison established his first small laboratory in Newark, New Jersey. He later moved his operations to Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1876.  By this time he was considered a world authority on technology and invention.  In 1880 he was granted a patent for his most notable invention- the incandescent light bulb.  By 1881 he was establishing facilities in major cities across the country where electricity would be installed.  In 1882 fifty nine customers in lower Manhattan were the first to witness the soft glow emanating from Edison’s bulbs.

Throughout the rest of his life Edison committed himself to creating things that would benefit mankind. This often resulted in little time spent with his family and even less with his few close friends.  By the end of his life he accumulated 1,093 patents.  He died October 18th, 1931 at his home in New Jersey at the age of 84.





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