Thomas Edison is famous as an American inventor. But he didn't just create a few handy doodads. His incredible ideas transformed life for humanity. How much do you know about Edison and his famous work?
Edison is America's most famous inventor. He filed more than 1,000 patents during his prolific career.
He was a terrible student, and he dropped out at a young age. His mother dedicated much of her time to teaching him.
He was born in Ohio in 1847. But his family moved when he was young, meaning he was mostly raised in Michigan.
His middle name was Alva. But everyone just called him "Al."
He was sick as a child and his hearing suffered following numerous ear infections (and perhaps at the hands of a physically abusive adult). He considered himself to be nearly deaf.
Edison began working for the Grand Trunk Railroad and observed men using telegraph machines for communication. He learned the technology and eventually was hired for the job.
Edison was insanely curious, constantly asking questions about everything. His teacher lost patience with him, but fortunately, Edison's mother entertained all of his inquiries and developed his curiosity.
He saved a railroad's worker toddler from the wheels of a train. The man repaid Tom's heroism by giving him lessons on the telegraph, an event that changed Edison's life.
He invented a type of electric vote recorder. Unfortunately, the idea completely bombed. He decided then to move to New York City.
He scoffed at the idea that he was a born genius. He credited his success to persistence and common sense.
Mary had three children with Edison. She died in 1884, at the age of 29, perhaps due to a brain tumor.
Edison was not only a whip-smart inventor, but he was savvy in business, too. He was constantly finding new ways to maximize the profits from his creations.
Early telegraphs were limited in the quantity of messages they could transmit. With the quadruplex telepgraph, two messages could be sent simultaneously in both directions on a single wire.
Western Union, the company famous for wired money transfers, bought the technology. They gave Edison around $10,000, which was a princely sum in the late 1800s.
His fantastic inventions earned him the nickname "The Wizard of Menlo Park," because he created many of his ideas in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
In 1877, he developed the first phonograph. His version was the first ever to reproduce pre-recorded sounds.
Less than two years after Mary's death, Edison married again, this time to a 20-year-old woman named Mina. He was 39 at the time.
Edison fought with George Westinghouse in the War of Currents, in which each man touted different standards for the transmission of electricity.
He shared his knowledge of Morse code with her. Then he proposed to her by using his fingers to tap his proposal on her hands. Cue groaning.
Edison stood by his DC (direct current) standard versus Westinghouse's AC (alternating current) standard. AC, of course, won the day. Edison gave up and eventually started his own AC company.
In the 1890s, Edison set about making better bricks -- those that were porous enough to allow the passage of gasses but that wouldn't absorb liquids. The men who sorted through the mucky, dirty options were "muckers."
Edison had money to burn and Mina wanted to live in the country. They bought a 29-room home and lived like royalty.
He rejected fairy tale versions of God. But Edison steadfastly believed that there was a higher power of some sort.
Samuel Edison knew that education was paramount to a good life. He paid Thomas a dime for every classic book he completed.
It was 1878 when Edison's experiments with incandescent lighting paid off. He found a way to make carbonized filaments that provided many hours of light at low voltage.
The Kinetograph was ultimately a type of movie camera, one that laced many still images into an illusion of motion. The accompanying viewing instrument was called the Kinetoscope.
Edison was enraptured by the singing of birds. He amassed a collection of thousands of singing birds, and he greatly enjoyed their songs.
1901 saw the formation of the Edison Storage Battery Company. Edison's advances in alkaline battery technology still reverberate today.
Thomas struggled with diabetes and complications from the disease killed him in 1931 at the age of 84. He was buried on his own property.
He was a believer in the power of hard work. He said, "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."'