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American National Biography

Thomas Edison


Edison was a prolific and influential inventor. His career began at the time of great economic and industrial growth in the United States, and he and his associates contributed to that growth. A highly imaginative mechanic and electrician, Edison learned how to exploit inventions in his early telegraph years. Later he dealt with finance capitalists like Gould and Morgan. Though not their match in high finance, he returned repeatedly to his laboratory and brought forth practical products for the marketplace. He received public accolades as the father of many new industries, including phonograph and sound recording; dictating machines; electric lighting and associated electric utilities; electrical manufacturing; and motion pictures and associated projection equipment. He did not work alone in his laboratory nor on the technical frontier, yet he was one of a small number of American pioneers who successfully garnered resources and effectively managed team industrial research, development, and innovation. Among those early pioneers, he was the master.

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