Edison Files

Edison Chronology

1847 - February 11, Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio , son of Samuel and Nancy Elliott Edison.
1859 - Edison became a newspaper boy on the Grand Trunk Railroad between Port Huron and Detroit, Michigan.
1862 - Edison published and printed The Weekly Herald aboard the train - the first newspaper ever printed on a moving train. In August Thomas saved the life of a young boy. The boy's father taught Edison telegraphy.
1863 - Edison started a five-year career as a telegraph operator moving around the country from post to post. He learned to be a proficient operator and made improvements to the equipment, too.
1868 - At the age of 21, Edison invented his first device - the Electrical Vote Recorder .
1870 - Edison received payment of $40,000 for his second invention the Stock Ticker from the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company. He opened a manufacturing shop in Newark, New Jersey making stock tickers and telegraph instruments.
1871 - Edison assisted C. L. Sholes at making the first successful working typewriter.
1872 - Edison started a four year stint working on the manufacturing of telegraph equipment for Western Union and Automatic Telegraph Companies. His work was on several telegraph items: duplex, quadruplex, sextuplex and multiplex telegraph systems along with other items.
1875 - Edison discovered an unknown electrical phenomenon called “etheric force.” This force was later recognized to be caused by electric waves in free space.
1876 - Edison patented the Electric Pen . A.B. Dick Company of Chicago received license to manufacture the mimeograph. Edison moved to the Menlo Park location - the first laboratory setup for industrial research - the fore runner to today's Research and Development (R&D) departments.
1877 - Edison patented the Carbon Telephone Transmitter making the commercial telephone a viable industry. This device included the microphone used in radio broadcasting. Later in the year, Edison invented “his baby” the phonograph .
1878 - Edison became actively interested in the problems associated with electric lighting. He then incorporated Edison Electric Light Company .
1879 - A productive year - Edison invented the first practical incandescent electric lamp and invented major improvements in dynamo construction making them suitable as generators. He invented systems of distribution, regulation and measurement of electric current, including sockets, switches and fuses and so on. Edison demonstrated for the pubic his electric lighting system for streets and buildings.
1880 - Edison invented the magnetic ore separator . He started operation of the first passenger electric railway in the United States at Menlo Park, New Jersey.
1881 - He opened the Edison Machine Works in New York City.
1882 - Edison opened the first commercial incandescent lighting and power station in London, England at Holborn Viaduct. He moved the commercial incandescent lamp factory and established shops to manufacture dynamos, underground conductors, sockets, switches, fixtures, meters and so on. He started the first commercial central station for incandescent lighting in the United States on Pearl Street, New York, NY.
1883 - The “Edison Effect” was discovered. This discovery is fundamental in modern electronics.

1885 - Edison received patent on a system allowing trains and stations to communicate by wireless induction telegraphy . He also receives a patent on a similar system for ships and shore stations to communicate by wireless induction telegraphy.
1886 - Edison moved the Edison Machine Works from New York City to Schenectady, NY.
1887 - Edison moved his laboratory to West Orange, New Jersey. During the first four years in this laboratory, Edison took out over eighty patents on improvements on the cylinder phonograph .
1889 - Edison developed the first projection of an experimental motion picture .
1894 - Edison offered for the first time commercial motion pictures with the opening of a “peephole” Kinetoscope parlor in New York.
1896 - Edison experimented with the x-ray (discovered by Roentgen) and developed the fluoroscope to view x-rays . Edison did not patent the fluoroscope - he left it in the pubic domain for humanity. Edison applied for a patent on the first fluorescent electric lamp .
1900 - Edison began a ten-year period that would result in the invention of the Edison nickel-iron-alkaline storage battery and its commercial application.
1901 - Edison began construction of the Edison Cement plant in New Village, New Jersey , with quarrying operations nearby.
1902 - Edison improved the copper oxide primary battery.
1907 - Edison developed the universal electric motor to operate the dictating machine using either AC or DC current.
1910 - Edison started a four-year period of work improving the disc phonograph.
1913 - Edison introduced a “new and improved” talking movie, called the kinetophone .
1914 - Edison greatly assisted miner safety with his patented electric safety lantern . He developed a process for the manufacture of synthetic carbolic acid . Within a short time, Edison was able to produce a ton a day, important during the early days of World War I. Edison's West Orange plant was destroyed by fire. Rebuilding started immediately.
1915 - Edison built a number of coal-tar plants. As the war expanded, the coal-tar derivatives proved important in the production of explosives. Edison's work was recognized as an important development in the coal-tar chemical industry in the United States. Edison became president of the Naval Consulting Board , at the request of the Secretary of the Navy. Edison oversaw more than forty major war and national defense issues of the United States . Franklin D. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
1923 - Edison studied the economical conditions of the United States and produced his findings which lead to an eventual amendment to the Federal Reserve Banking System .
1928 - Edison received the Congressional Gold Medal by Andrew W. Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury.
1929 - Edison re-enacted the making of the first practical incandescent lamp while President Hoover, friend Henry Ford and world leaders looked on. The event commemorated the 50th anniversary of the practical incandescent lamp.
1931 - October 18, Thomas Alva Edison died at the age of 84 in Llewellyn Park, West Orange, New Jersey .

Reference Material: A Brief History of Thomas Alva Edison , by John D. Venable

Supporting Files

Related Links
Edison Chronology
Edison's Childhood Years
Edison's Two Families
Lewis Howard Latimer
The Practical Incandescent Light Bulb