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Inventing the Future A Photo biography Of Thomas Alva Edison. Genre: Biography. Boston was PERFECT for Thomas Edison !!! In 1868 Edison took a job in the Western Union telegraph office in Boston.

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Inventing the Future

A Photo biography

Of

ThomasAlva Edison

Genre: Biography


  • Boston was PERFECT for Thomas Edison !!!

  • In 1868 Edison took a job in the Western Union

  • telegraph office in Boston.

  • He realized that Boston had people with similar interests to his own.

  • Boston was a community filled with inventors!

  • (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876)


Edison was inspired by all the activity he found! Thomas Edison !!!

He met with people who had money to invest in the development of his ideas.

  • He specialized in telegraphic devices but worked on other inventions

  • He was 22 years old , (in 1868) when he received his 1st patent

    • A patent is an official document issued by the government that gives a person or company the sole right to make or sell an invention


  • His 1 Thomas Edison !!!st patent (in 1868) was on an electric vote recorder.

  • It was intended for state legislature use, but lawmakers were not interested.

  • In 1869 Edison moved to New York City because many telegraph companies had their headquarters there.

    • There were many opportunities for a young inventor here.

    • He repaired & improved stock printers/tickers because the noise was loud

    • He also repaired stock printers which was a telegraph that sent minute by minute reports of the changing price of gold to stockbrokers’ offices

    • He soon realized that the telegraphic improvements were going to be commercially successful!


  • In the fall of 1869, Edison started his own business Thomas Edison !!!

  • They advertised themselves as electrical engineers who could

  • “devise electrical instruments to solve problems.”

  • The company offered a variety of services having to do with telegraph technology & develop new devices.

  • He patented a number of telegraphic improvements

  • People were willing to pay for his inventions!

By the time he was 23, he had a great reputation & several financial backers

* he hired several skilled machinists & clockmakers to assist in his inventions


  • Edison always thought of himself as an Thomas Edison !!!“equal” to his workers.

  • In the fall of 1871,at the age of 24, he started his own news service called, the News Reporting Telegraph Company.

  • __________________________________________________________

  • Personal side-notes…

  • He married on Christmas Day in 1871

    • The couple’s 1st daughter was born & nickname was “Dot” (after the telegraph signal)

    • Their 2nd child, a son, was born later & nicknames “Dash” (another name for a telegraph signal)

    • The 3rd child was also a son, just

      • named William…..


While working on dozens inventions at once, Edison 1 Thomas Edison !!!st developed a method of team inventing – that would characterize the rest of his career.

Edison wasdescribed as generous, competitive & determined

  • Edison would sketch out an idea & his assistants would make it into a working model

  • The Lab workers then would experiment with the model & see how it worked

  • Often times, the invention would fail, but that made Edison just want to work harder at perfecting it!

  • Edison’s workers were very loyal to him.

  • Edison worked side by side with his workers and wasn’t afraid of getting dirty or working long hours.

He often gave his workers a

percentage in the profits made

on an invention!


  • During this time, Thomas Edison !!!the mid- 1870’s, he invented the electric pen.

  • It could create multiple copies of handwritten documents and sold very well!

  • During this time he manufactured, sold & patented many other inventions.

  • In 1876, Edison sold his Newark business & moved his family & about 20 of his best workers to Menlo Park, New Jersey

  • There he had a laboratory built to his design & devoted himself to his workers & research & development of his ideas.

  • Throughout all his fame, Edison never thought himself as superior to his workers.


  • While working on the telephone, Edison thought of a way to transmit human sound over wires……this was the invention of the phonograph!

  • He & his workers designed & tested ideas for this machine

  • The phonograph was considered a “miracle” and he was considered a “wizard!”

  • The phonograph is the base product of records & cd’s that we listen to today!


  • Thomas Edison’s Greatest Challenge of his career invented the telephone,

  • (after he invented the electric pen)

  • Was…… electric lighting systems for homes!

  • This was not a new idea….

  • Brightly burning lamps called ARC lights replaced gas street lamps, but were not suitable for homes.

  • Edison vowed to be the 1st to perfect this!

    • He got the financial support he needed, and worked diligently to perfect this idea.

    • In 1879, after a lot of testing, Edison & his crew produced a light bulb that burned longer than 13 hours!


  • Edison’s inventions/ideas are the foundation of many modern day devices

  • Improved how the telephone transmits

  • Phonograph – records, cd’s , Mp3 players, & major impact on the recording industry today!!

  • Indoor & outdoor lighting

  • Generators used to produce electricity

  • Electric power stations that produce electricity to cities & towns

  • Movie cameras that produce films - later he opened the world’s 1st motion picture studio


Thomas Edison said many things modern day devicesto show his level of determination!

“ Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.”

“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results.”

“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

“The phonograph is my baby & I expect it to grow

up and be a big fellar & support me in my

old age.”


Discussion Questions: modern day devices

You need to find answers to these questions……

Why do you think the author included some of Edison’s quotations?

Edison was a good businessman as well as a good inventor. Name supporting evidence for this from the story.

3. How did the author organize the story & why do you think it was done this way?

(things to consider in your answer…..chronological? Quotations used? Genre?)


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