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All About Thomas Edison

The rooms at Swain House that are designated for the use of the deaf children are named after famous people who are or were deaf.

Thomas Edison the famous inventor was born hearing and later became deaf. There are different theories about how he became deaf. Some believe his deafness is a result of contracting Scarlet Fever when he was a child and others suggest that there is a more dramatic account of him being hauled back into a moving train by his ears! Ouch!

Read on to find out more!

All About Thomas Edison

Edison was born in Milan, Ohio on February 11, 1847. When he went to school his teachers didn’t think he was very good at school work – his mum wasn’t too pleased with the teachers for suggesting this so she taught him at home. He was always fascinated by experimentation and built his own laboratory in the basement of his family’s house where he would try mixing chemicals and making things.

Edison worked on trains when he was young, selling fruit and papers. He often carried out experiments when he was on the trains as well as setting up his own printing press and newspaper, but once set fire to the carriage and was asked to leave! When Edison was 15 he saved a three year old boy from being run over by a train. The boy’s dad was so grateful to Edison that he taught him how to use the telegraph communication system. This then led to Edison getting a job as a telegraph operator.

Edison spent a lot of his time at work and at home experimenting with ideas for inventions. The first invention that he patented was designed to count votes, however, nobody wanted it and so he decided that any future inventions needed to be things that people actually wanted to buy!

He set up a company in the American village of Menlo Park, which employed people to help him to develop his inventions – they worked in teams to share ideas and to work quicker. His inventions were also made (or manufactured) in his factory, so that they could be sold directly by him.

Edison was keen to develop a lightbulb that would stay lit for a long period of time and that would have a gentle light. He hoped it could be used in homes. Once he had developed a domestic ‘incandescent’ lightbulb he knew that homes would need electricity to power them, so he also worked on developing an electrical power distribution system. His first electricity distribution system was opened in 1887 in New York, America.

In 1887, Edison opened a new laboratory in a place called West Orange, where he continued to develop his ideas for inventions. Throughout his life Edison developed and patented over 1000 inventions – the most anyone has ever managed. His most important inventions apart from the incandescent lightbulb were the phonograph which records and replays sound, and motion pictures – the recording and replaying of images.

Edison lived until he was 84 years old.