Before Thomas Edison invented  the incandescent light bulb, people used candles to light their homes.  Using candles was not safe since they could fall and cause a fire.  After his light bulb, people worldwide  safely lighted their dwellings.  Even though the light bulbs that we use today are more efficient, they are still based on his original concept.

Born in Milan, Ohio, Edison was interested in science as a child.  During his childhood, he used his basement as a laboratory.  As a boy, he also worked selling candy and newspapers.  The business experiences that he had helped him to promote his inventions successfully.

Thomas Edison bought Glenmont, a Queen Anne home, for his second wife, Mina, in 1884. [Image by VitaleBaby/Wikimedia Commons]
Not only did he become a top inventor, he was also a hero.  He saved the life of three-year-old Jimmie Mac Kenzie.  In order to save Jimmie from a runaway train, he risked his life.   Mac Kenzie’s father was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph operator. Since there was a demand for telegraph operators,  he was able to make a good living.  Becoming a telegraph operator jump started his career as an inventor.

Edison opened a factory in Newark, New Jersey.  In the Newark plant, they made telegraphic equipment.  He also worked hard to improve the telephone and the typewriter.  In 1867, he started a lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey.  Since he created the phonograph and  other inventions, he was nicknamed, “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”

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By inventing a practical lamp, he showed innovation.  Other inventors fabricated incandescent lamps before Edison, but they were not functional.  Using his brilliant mind, he created a durable and practical incandescent lamp.  On December 13, 1879, Edison showed an audience in Menlo Park his  light bulb.

Since his promoted his light bulb successfully, the Columbia steamship was the first business to use his light bulb in 1880.  Mahem Theatre, now located in the Czech Republic, was the first public building in the world to use Edison’s electric lamps.

When he died on October 18, 1931, he left mankind a legacy.  Using the light switch is something that we often take for granted.  We should always remember that it was Edison’s gift.

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Throughout New Jersey, there are places dedicated to this prolific inventor.  The Town of Edison, New Jersey, bears the name of America’s greatest inventor.  Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and the Museum are two other spots that honor this innovator.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park is another interesting site to visit.  When you tour this attraction, you can see Edison’s laboratory.  You can also visit Glenmont, his cherished estate.  Located in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey, Edison bought this home for his second wife, Mina, in May 1884.   He spent more time in the laboratory than in the Queen Anne style home.

Whether we are inventors or not, going to Edison historic sites  will educate us. Future inventors will be inspired when they see Edison’s laboratory.  Some day they will create an innovation that will change the world.