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Thomas Alva Edison Biography

Thomas Alva Edison Biography

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventorand businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor.He is credited with developing many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, motion pictures,primary and storage batteries, and mining and cement technology.He is often credited with establishing the first industrial research laboratory.In 1876, he established his first laboratory facility in Menlo Park, New Jersey, where many of his early inventions would be developed. He would later establish a botanic laboratory in Fort Myers, Florida in collaboration with businessmen Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, and a laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey that featured the world's first film studio, the Black Maria. He was a prolific inventor, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as patents in other countries. 
Early Life
Thomas Edison was born, in 1847, in Milan, Ohio, and grew up in Port Huron, Michigan. He was the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison Jr. and Nancy Matthews Elliott . His father,was a Canadian political firebrand who was exiled from his country. The family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, when Thomas was seven.He attended school for a few months and was instead taught by his mother.Much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker's School of Natural Philosophy and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
In 1859 Edison began working on a local branch of the Grand Trunk Railroad, selling newspapers, magazines, and candy. At one point he printed a newspaper on the train, and he also conducted chemical experiments in a baggage-car laboratory. By 1862 he had learned enough telegraphy to be employed as an operator in a local office.From 1863 to 1867 he traveled through the Midwest as an itinerant telegrapher. During these years he read widely, studied and experimented with telegraph technology, and generally acquainted himself with electrical science.
Early Inventive Career
His first patent was for the electric vote recorder,U.S. Patent 90,646, which was granted on June 1, 1869.Finding little demand for the machine, Edison moved to New York City shortly thereafter. One of his mentors during those early years was a fellow telegrapher and inventor named Franklin Leonard Pope, who allowed the impoverished youth to live and work in the basement of his Elizabeth, New Jersey, home, while Edison worked for Samuel Laws at the Gold Indicator Company. Pope and Edison founded their own company in October 1869, working as electrical engineers and inventors. Edison began developing a multiplex telegraphic system, which could send two messages simultaneously, in 1874.
Edison soon acquired a reputation as a first-rank inventor. His work included stock tickers, fire alarms, methods of sending simultaneous messages on one wire, and an electrochemical telegraph to send messages by automatic machinery. The crowning achievement of this period was the quadruplex telegraph, which sent two messages simultaneously in each direction on one wire.
The problems of interfering signals in multiple telegraphy and high speed in automatic transmission forced Edison to extend his study of electromagnetism and chemistry. As a result, he introduced electrical and chemical laboratories into his experimental machine shops.
Near the end of 1875, observations of strange sparks in telegraph instruments led Edison into a public scientific controversy over what he called "etheric force," which only later was understood to be radio waves.
Menlo Park
In 1876, Edison created a freestanding industrial research facility incorporating both a machine shop and laboratories. Here in Menlo Park, on the rail line between New York City and Philadelphia, he developed three of his greatest inventions.
Urged by Western Union to develop a telephone that could compete with Alexander Graham Bell's, Edison invented a transmitter in which a button of compressed carbon changed its resistance as it was vibrated by the sound of the user's voice, a new principle that was used in telephones for the next century.
While working on the telephone in the summer of 1877, Edison discovered a method of recording sound, and in the late fall he unveiled the phonograph. This astounding instrument brought him world fame as the "Wizard of Menlo Park" and the "inventor of the age."
Finally, beginning in the fall of 1878, Edison devoted thirty months to developing a complete system of incandescent electric lighting. During his lamp experiments, he noticed an electrical phenomenon that became known as the "Edison effect," the basis for vacuum-tube electronics.
He left Menlo Park in 1881 to establish factories and offices in New York and elsewhere. Over the next five years he manufactured, improved, and installed his electrical system around the world.
In 1887, Edison built an industrial research laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, that remained unsurpassed until the twentieth century. For four years it was the primary research facility for the Edison lighting companies, and Edison spent most of his time on that work. In 1888 and 1889, he concentrated for several months on a new version of the phonograph that recorded on wax cylinders.
Edison worked with William Dickson from 1888 till 1893 on a motion picture camera. Although Edison had always had experimental assistants, this was the clearest instance of a co-invention for which Edison received sole credit.
In 1887 Edison returned to experiments on the electromagnetic separation and concentration of low-grade iron and gold ores, work he had begun in 1879. During the 1890's he built a full-scale plant in northern New Jersey to process iron ore. This venture was Edison's most notable commercial failure.
Later Years
After the mining failure, Edison adapted some of the machinery to process Portland cement. A roasting kiln he developed became an industry standard. Edison cement was used for buildings, dams, and even Yankee Stadium.
In the early years of the automobile industry there were hopes for an electric vehicle, and Edison spent the first decade of the twentieth century trying to develop a suitable storage battery. Although gas power won out, Edison's battery was used extensively in industry.
In World War I the federal government asked Edison to head the Naval Consulting Board, which examined inventions submitted for military use. Edison worked on several problems, including submarine detectors and gun location techniques.
Death
Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931, in his home, "Glenmont" in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey, which he had purchased in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina. Rev. Stephen J. Herben officiated at the funeral;Edison is buried behind the home.
Edison's last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at The Henry Ford museum near Detroit. Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor's room shortly after his death, as a memento. A plaster death mask and casts of Edison's hands were also made.Mina died in 1947.

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