In a world full of technological advancements

In a world full of technological advancements, many people have become increasingly dependent on technology that come in a variety of shapes and that perform different functions. It has advanced over the years and has changed the way people live, the way they communicate with others, their modes of transportation, enhanced their learning experiences and other aspects of day-to-day tasks. Despite all of these advances, there is still a growing need to exceed previous accomplishments and the will to reach new levels of satisfaction. Engineers continue to create products when needed to improve the quality of civilization. They are the problem-solvers with the experience to deal with obstacles efficiently; such skills have become a major influence on societies today. When it came to generating solutions, Thomas Edison was the go-to mind for the job; no inventor was able to push the boundaries of innovation in the same fashion that he did. Edison was able to create products and build on existing ones that would allow him to become the current record holder of over a thousand patents. His contribution to science is incomparable, which is why he is regarded by many as one of the greatest inventors in history.
Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio. Young Edison was a curious child constantly asking questions to understand how the things around him worked. When Edison and his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, he attended a public school for only a few months. Teachers described Edison as a hyperactive kid that was easily distracted, which made him too much to cope with in class. After his mother pulled him from the school, Edison would display a never-ending hunger for knowledge. With that, he developed a unique self-educating and independent learning technique that would help him absorb information and aid him in his studies throughout his career.
With his move to New York City at the age of 22 and inspiration from his readings, Edison decided to improve the stock ticker; a device that kept track of stock market prices. His first ever patented invention, the “Universal Stock Printer”, was able to efficiently synchronize multiple stock tickers’ transactions simultaneously. The Gold and Stock Telegraph Company was astonished with the improvements, they purchased the rights of the product from him for a sum of $40,000. It was that investment which would motivate Edison to devote all of his effort to inventing as a full-time job. By the early 1870s, Thomas Edison was able to establish himself as a first-rate inventor. He would build products for high paying clients; his work gained recognition which attracted others to form partnerships with him. In a way, he was also an entrepreneur. To help propel his experimentations even further, he would build the famous laboratory and manufacturing complex in Menlo Park, New Jersey, and employed fellow scientists he trusted to help him. Edison wanted to remain in close proximity to his workplace, so he would buy a house nearby. When it came to inventing, Edison’s family would not see much of him at home. In many cases, he would get extremely involved in his work and would stay in the lab overnight to get things done.
At the time in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell had just invented the telephone. With a simple design and poor performance, Edison saw this challenge as an opportunity to improve the device and his determination was encouraged by the Western Union Company. The company would support him in hopes that he could invent a more efficient telephone; one that they could profit from without violating Bell’s patented product. Edison ultimately overtook Bell’s version of the telephone by creating an ear and mouth piece that would enhance communications. He was also able to implement a transmitter that could relay messages over great distances.
After analyzing more of Bell’s work on telephones and making the necessary adjustments, Edison was able transmit the voices successfully. At this point, he wanted to take this idea a step further; he began to explore ways of recording those voices. On June 1877, while working on audio prototypes in the lab, Edison and his assistants accidently made scratch grooves into a disc which unexpectedly produced a sound. Fascinated by the discovery, Edison created blueprints and rough sketches to capture the design of the voice-recording mechanism, which he would later call “the phonograph”. By November of that year, after months of research, Edison’s assistants were able to create the first working model. What was even more surprising was that the device had a successful trial run on the first attempt, which was quite a rare experience for a new invention. With the invention of the phonograph, Edison had achieved overnight fame. Anywhere he went or whenever his name was mentioned, he was recognized by the community and became a well-know scientific icon. His invention was so revolutionary, that he was nicknamed “The Wizard of Menlo Park”. Academics around the world showed great admiration for the phonograph and were convinced that the device had potential for more uses than just an ordinary noise maker.
After the phonograph mayhem settled down, it was clear to Edison that it was time for a new invention to be presented into the spotlight. He shifted his efforts to a project that he found to be stimulating: the creation of an electrical light source. During the 1870s, there was an ongoing search for electric light to compete with the traditional gas and oil based lighting. To generate some ideas, Edison decided to observe Humphry Davy’s invention of the arc lighting system. Arc lighting produced light when an electric current discharge passed through the electric arc via carbon electrodes and was enclosed within an incandescent light bulb. The problem with Davy’s design was that it had a short life span, expensive to produce, and required high amounts of electric voltage to function. These flaws made it difficult to expand on a large scale. After carefully examination, Edison convinced himself that he could provide the necessary modifications that would make it better. His goal was to improve the efficiency of the incandescent light. Edison and his team tested different materials to see which worked best as a filament in the light bulb. The ideal material that performed far better than the rest was carbon; it would withstand intense heat conditions and have a longer combustion rate which kept the bulb illuminated for about 14 hours. Finding the right performance for a light bulb was extensive and took years to finalize. After the proper model was produced, the greatest challenge was the large scale expansion of electricity to the public. Such a task would require a large network of wires, switches, and a generator that is able to deliver power to the city. On New Year’s Eve in 1879, Edison decided that downtown Manhattan was the ideal location to pilot his network infrastructure, but was not easy to execute; he would require financial assistance. To persuade investors to fund the debut of his project, Edison gave them a demonstration at his Menlo Park lab. He would eventually receive the money he needed to install electricity in a small section of downtown Manhattan. After a successful trial, electricity was provided to the whole city two years later. It was during the complete installation of electric power stations when Edison began making a profit from his creation.
By bringing life to the phonograph and providing light to his community, it took Edison to new heights in his career; he became owner of companies that manufactured his products and forming business partnerships along the way. However, managing his companies and inventing was too much for him to handle at the same time. For this reason, he hired others to monitor his companies, while he concentrated on his projects.
Edison became intrigued by motion capture after seeing a series of photos of a horse that gave the illusion of movement. This phenomenon inspired him to create a kinetograph (motion recorder) and a kinetoscope (used to view the moving images).
With the success he found in most of his inventions, there were some that were complete failures and had negative outcomes. Discovered by the Dutch scientist Wilhelm Rontgen, x-rays have had a huge impact on medical science. With the invention of the fluoroscope, it allowed doctors to get an image of what the interior of the human body looks like. Influenced by this, Edison made his own fluoroscope to do the same. Unfortunately, Edison would lose one of his workers to radiation poisoning; this put an end to his work with X-rays or any forms of radiation.
On October 18, 1931, Thomas Edison, one of the world’s historic inventors, passed away. As a token of appreciation for his contribution to humanity, the then president Herbert Hoover asked the citizens to dim their lights at night. After 84 years as an innovator and businessman, Edison ‘shed some light’ on new pathways and developed a new approach to problems solving in a way only he was dominate in. He was driven to come up with new inventions and improve on current ones that would better the quality of civilization at his time. As an entrepreneur, Thomas Edison was able to realize that there was no use in creating an invention if there was no need for it. Problem-solving is all about supplying the user with what they demand. As engineers in modern civilization continue to enhance the quality of life, major credit for Thomas Edison’s work is considered to be the foundation of all inventions that have been created to this day.


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