Thomas Alva Edison said, “Let there be light” and so there was. Alright, he didn’t say that, but he did create the light bulb and many other inventions that are now considered standards of our modern era. There are very few people who have never heard the name of Thomas Edison. He was such a powerhouse of invention -registering over 1000 patents- that his name is nearly synonymous with innovation.
In fact the Edison was such a prolific inventor that he was known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park”. Many of his inventions were so revolutionary that they must have seemed like true “wizardry” to his adoring public. Let’s look at the top inventions of Thomas Alva Edison:
♦ The Light Bulb ♦
By far his most famous creation; the incandescent light bulb was a miracle of technology. In a day and age with gas powered lighting he was able to create a cheap and reliable source of lighting that would in a few short years be available to everyone. It was truly one of the revolutionary moments of history. His amazing determination was famously quoted when he was asked about the many failures he had in trying to create the light bulb. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.”
♦ The Lighting System: Let there be Light … Everywhere ♦
The light bulb grabs all the headlines but it was not the only thing he patented. To make light bulbs sell he had to create a system where a lighting could be efficiently used. For this Edison had to refine many existing inventions and create many new ones. All in all there were 6 very important inventions he made in addition to the bulb to make the lighting system work. 1) On/Off Switches 2) Parallel Circuit 3) An Improved Dynamo 4) Safety Fuses 5) Networked Underground Conductors 6) New Insulating Materials. Some major inventions and some minor, but all essential to a working lighting system.
♦ Direct Current ♦
Edison did not “create” direct current (DC). But he promoted the idea of it and was relentless in pursuing the applications. He created numerous applications for distributing and utilizing direct current on both macro and micro levels. This brought him head to head against Nikola Tesla who “discovered” Alternating Current (AC) and was the major proponent of that system.
♦ Flouroscopy ♦
The idea of X-rays seems to be a relatively modern idea. It is not though. Edison created the worlds first Flouroscope. A fluoroscope is basically a device that uses x-rays to and a fluorescent material behind the person to get an image.
♦ Stock Ticker and Telegraph ♦
The stock ticker is something that is rarely used today. But it was one of the tent posts that Edison was able to make his fortune on. Edison had made numerous refinements and small patents to the “telegraph” system. This gave him his grounding in electricity. He was able to use this knowledge to create the stock ticker which broadcast and updated stock information constantly over existing telegraph lines. The stock ticker was the primary means for disseminating stock information until the advent of television and computers.
♦ Kinetograph/Kinetoscope/Phonograph ♦
The Kinetograph was an early version of a movie camera. While a Kinetoscope was an early was to view these movies. The idea of a Kinetocope was that the moving picture would be displayed within the machine. There was a small aperture the viewer could look through and see the action, which ended up being the first short films. Ultimately others would carry the work on from there, but his basic ideas lead the way to the Motion Picture industry as we know it today.
As if making the precursors for the Movie industry was not enough, Edison also invented the Phonograph. A phonograph allowed people to record and reproduce sound. It could easily be said that what the Kinetograph and Kinetoscope did for the Movie Industry, the Phonograph did for the Music Industry.
♦ The Top Inventions of Thomas Alva Edison ♦
There is no doubt that Thomas Edison was one of the most prolific inventors imaginable. These top inventions of his are only the tip of the iceberg. When all was said and done Edison had 1093 unique patents when he died. This is an incredible figure. 1093 inventions; many of which would change the world for generation to come.