Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison was born on 11 February, 1847 in Milan, Ohio, and grew up in Port Huron, Michigan and died on 18 October, 1931, in his home, “Glenmont” in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey. Thomas Edison is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Orange, New Jersey. Thomas Edison’s last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at the Henry Ford Museum. Henry Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor’s room shortly after his death, as a memento. A plaster death mask was also made.

Thomas Edison was an American inventor and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph and a long lasting light bulb. Dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park” by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.

Thomas Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,093 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

Thomas Edison was the 7th and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. (1804–1896) (born in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia, Canada) and Nancy Matthews Edison née Elliott (1810–1871). Thomas Edison considered himself to be of Dutch ancestry.

Thomas Edison as a boy in school, the young Thomas Edison’s mind often wandered, and his teacher, the Reverend Engle, was overheard calling him “addled.” This ended Thomas Edison’s 3 months of official schooling. Thomas Edison recalled later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” Thomas Edison’s mother then home schooled him. Much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker’s School of Natural Philosophy and The Cooper Union.

Thomas Edison developed hearing problems at an early age. The cause of his deafness has been attributed to a bout of scarlet fever during childhood and recurring untreated middle ear infections. Around the middle of his career Thomas Edison attributed the hearing loss to being struck on the ears by a train conductor when his chemical laboratory in a boxcar caught fire and he was thrown off the train in Smiths Creek, Michigan, along with his apparatus and chemicals. In his later years he modified the story to say the injury occurred when the conductor, in helping him onto a moving train, lifted him by the ears.

Thomas Edison’s family was forced to move to Port Huron, Michigan, when the railroad bypassed Milan in 1854, but his life there was bittersweet. Thomas Edison sold candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit, as well as vegetables that he sold to supplement his income. This began Thomas Edison’s long streak of entrepreneurial ventures as he discovered his talents as a businessman. These talents eventually led him to found General Electric, which is still a publicly traded company, and 13 other companies.

Thomas Edison became a telegraph operator after he saved 3 year old Jimmie MacKenzie from being struck by a runaway train. Jimmie’s father, station agent J.U. MacKenzie of Mount Clemens, Michigan, was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph operator. Thomas Edison’s first telegraphy job away from Port Huron was at Stratford Junction, Ontario, on the Grand Trunk Railway. In 1866, at the age of 19, Thomas Edison moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where as an employee of Western Union he worked the Associated Press bureau news wire. Thomas Edison requested the night shift, which allowed him plenty of time to spend at his 2 favorite pastimes—reading and experimenting. Eventually, the latter pre-occupation cost him his job. One night in 1867, he was working with a battery when he spilled sulphuric acid onto the floor. It ran between the floorboards and onto his boss’ desk below. The next morning he was fired.

One of his mentors during those early years was a fellow telegrapher and inventor named Franklin Leonard Pope, who allowed the impoverished youth to live and work in the basement of his Elizabeth, New Jersey, home. Some of Thomas Edison’s earliest inventions were related to telegraphy, including a stock ticker. Thomas Edison’s first patent was for the electric vote recorder, (U. S. Patent 90,646), which was granted on June 1, 1869.

On 25 December, 1871, Thomas Edison married 16 year old Mary Stilwell, whom he had met 2 months earlier as she was an employee at one of his shops. They had 3 children: Marion Estelle Edison (1873–1965), nicknamed “Dot” Thomas Alva Edison Jr. (1876–1935), nicknamed “Dash” and William Leslie Edison (1878–1937) Mary Edison died on 9 August, 1884.

On 24 February, 1886, at the age of 39, Thomas Edison married 20 year old Mina Miller in Akron, Ohio. Mina Miller was the daughter of inventor Lewis Miller, co-founder of the Chautauqua Institution and a benefactor of Methodist charities. They also had 3 children: Madeleine Edison (1888–1979), who married John Eyre Sloane.

Mina outlived Thomas Edison, dying on 24 August, 1947 in Seminole Lodge, Edison’s winter home in Fort Myers, Florida . Thomas Edison had purchased his home in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina.

Charles Edison (1890–1969), who took over the company upon his father’s death and who later was elected Governor of New Jersey
Theodore Miller Edison (1898–1992).

Photograph of Thomas Edison with his phonograph, taken by Mathew Brady in 1877 Thomas Edison began his career as an inventor in Newark, New Jersey, with the automatic repeater and his other improved telegraphic devices, but the invention which first gained him fame was the phonograph in 1877. This accomplishment was so unexpected by the public at large as to appear almost magical. Thomas Edison became known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” New Jersey, where he lived. Thomas Edison’s first phonograph recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder and had poor sound quality. The tinfoil recordings could only be replayed a few times. In the 1880s, a redesigned model using wax-coated cardboard cylinders was produced by Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, and Charles Tainter. This was one reason that Thomas Edison continued work on his own “Perfected Phonograph.”

Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory, removed to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Thomas Edison’s first successful light bulb model, used in public demonstration at Menlo Park, December 1879
U.S. Patent #223898: Electric-Lamp. Issued 27 January, 1880. Thomas Edison’s major innovation was the first industrial research lab, which was built in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Built with the funds from the sale of Thomas Edison’s quadruplex telegraph, it was the first institution set up with the specific purpose of producing constant technological innovation and improvement. Thomas Edison was legally attributed with most of the inventions produced there, though many employees carried out research and development work under his direction. Thomas Edison’s staff was generally told to carry out his directions in conducting research, and he drove them hard to produce results. The large research group, which included engineers and other workers, based much of their research on work done by others before them.

William J. Hammer, a consulting electrical engineer, began his duties as a laboratory assistant to Thomas Edison in December 1879. Thomas Edison assisted in experiments on the telephone, phonograph, electric railway, iron ore separator, electric lighting, and other developing inventions. However, Hammer worked primarily on the incandescent electric lamp and was put in charge of tests and records on that device. In 1880, he was appointed chief engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. In his first year, the plant under General Manager Francis Robbins Upton turned out 50,000 lamps. According to Thomas Edison, Hammer was “a pioneer of incandescent electric lighting”.

Nearly all of Thomas Edison’s patents were utility patents, which were protected for a 17 year period and included inventions or processes that are electrical, mechanical, or chemical in nature. About a dozen were design patents, which protect an ornamental design for up to a 14 year period. Like most patents, the inventions he described were improvements over prior art. The phonograph patent, on the other hand, was unprecedented as the first device to record and reproduce sounds. Thomas Edison did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light. Several designs had already been developed by earlier inventors including the patent he purchased from Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans, Moses G. Farmer, Joseph Swan, James Bowman Lindsay, William E. Sawyer, Sir Humphry Davy, and Heinrich Göbel. Some of these early bulbs had such flaws as extremely short life, high expense to produce, and high current draw, making them difficult to apply on a large scale commercially. In 1878, Thomas Edison applied the term filament to the element of glowing wire carrying the current, although English inventor Joseph Swan had used the term prior to this. Thomas Edison took the features of these earlier designs and set his workers to the task of creating longer-lasting bulbs. By 1879, he had produced a new concept: a high resistance lamp in a very high vacuum, which would burn for hundreds of hours. While the earlier inventors had produced electric lighting in laboratory conditions, dating back to a demonstration of a glowing wire by Alessandro Volta in 1800, Thomas Edison concentrated on commercial application, and was able to sell the concept to homes and businesses by mass-producing relatively long-lasting light bulbs and creating a complete system for the generation and distribution of electricity.

The Menlo Park research lab was made possible by the sale of the quadruplex telegraph that Thomas Edison invented in 1874. It could send 4 simultaneous telegraph signals over the same wire. After his demonstration of the telegraph, Thomas Edison was not sure that his original plan on selling it for $4,000 to $5,000 was right, so he asked Western Union to make an bid. Thomas Edison was surprised to hear them offer $40,000, which he graciously accepted. The quadruplex telegraph was Thomas Edison’s first big financial success and allowed him to build Menlo Park.

In just over a decade Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory had expanded to occupy 2 city blocks. Thomas Edison said he wanted the lab to have “a stock of almost every conceivable material”. A newspaper article printed in 1887 reveals the seriousness of his claim, stating the lab contained “eight thousand kinds of chemicals, every kind of screw made, every size of needle, every kind of cord or wire, hair of humans, horses, hogs, cows, rabbits, goats, minx, camels …silk in every texture, cocoons, various kinds of hoofs, shark’s teeth, deer horns, tortoise shell …cork, resin, varnish and oil, ostrich feathers, a peacock’s tail, jet, amber, rubber, all ores …” and the list goes on.

Over his desk, Thomas Edison displayed a placard with Sir Joshua Reynolds’ famous quote: “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” This slogan was reputedly posted at several other locations throughout the facility.

With Menlo Park, Edison had created the first industrial laboratory concerned with creating knowledge and then controlling its application.

In 1877–1878, Thomas Edison invented and developed the carbon microphone used in all telephones along with the Bell receiver until the 1980s. After protracted patent litigation, in 1892 a federal court ruled that Thomas Edison—and not Emile Berliner—was the inventor of the carbon microphone. The carbon microphone was also used in radio broadcasting and public address work through the 1920s.

History of the light bulb

After many experiments with platinum and other metal filaments, Thomas Edison returned to a carbon filament. The first successful test was on October 22, 1879, and lasted 40 hours. Thomas Edison continued to improve this design and by 4 November, 1879, filed for U.S. patent 223,898 (granted on January 27, 1880) for an electric lamp using “a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected to platina contact wires”. Although the patent described several ways of creating the carbon filament including “cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways”, it was not until several months after the patent was granted that Thomas Edison and his team discovered a carbonized bamboo filament could last over 1,200 hours.

Thomas Edison bought light bulb U.S. patent 181,613 of Henry Woodward that was issued 29 August, 1876 and obtained an exclusive license to Woodward’s Canadian patent. These patents covered a carbon filament in a rarefied gas bulb.

In 1878, Thomas Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City with several financiers, including J. P. Morgan and the members of the Vanderbilt family. Thomas Edison made the first public demonstration of his incandescent light bulb on 31 December, 1879, in Menlo Park. It was during this time that he said: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

George Westinghouse’s company bought Philip Diehl’s competing induction lamp patent rights (1882) for $25,000, forcing the holders of the Edison patent to charge a more reasonable rate for the use of the Edison patent rights and lowering the price of the electric lamp.

On 8 October, 1883, the U.S. patent office ruled that Edison’s patent was based on the work of William Sawyer and was therefore invalid. Litigation continued for nearly 6 years, until 6 October, 1889, when a judge ruled that Thomas Edison’s electric light improvement claim for “a filament of carbon of high resistance” was valid. To avoid a possible court battle with Joseph Swan, whose British patent had been awarded a year before Thomas Edison’s, he and Swan formed a joint company called Thomas Edison to manufacture and market the invention in Britain.

Mahen Theatre in Brno in what is now the Czech Republic, was the first public building in the world to use Thomas Edison’s electric lamps, with the installation supervised by Thomas Edison’s assistant in the invention of the lamp, Francis Jehl.

Thomas Edison patented an electric distribution system in 1880, which was essential to capitalize on the invention of the electric lamp. On 17 December, 1880, Thomas Edison founded the Edison Electric Illuminating Company. The company established the first investor-owned electric utility in 1882 on Pearl Street Station, New York City. It was on 4 September, 1882, that Thomas Edison switched on his Pearl Street generating station’s electrical power distribution system, which provided 110 volts direct current (DC) to 59 customers in lower Manhattan.

Earlier in the year, in January 1882 he had switched on the first steam generating power station at Holborn Viaduct in London. The DC supply system provided electricity supplies to street lamps and several private dwellings within a short distance of the station. On 19 January, 1883, the first standardised incandescent electric lighting system employing overhead wires began service in Roselle, New Jersey.

Extravagant displays of electric lights quickly became a feature of public events, as this picture from the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition shows. Thomas Edison’s true success, like that of his friend Henry Ford, was in his ability to maximize profits through establishment of mass-production systems and intellectual property rights. This dampened the success of less profitable work by others who were focused on inventing longer-lasting high-efficiency technology. George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison became adversaries because of Thomas Edison’s promotion of direct current for electric power distribution instead of the more easily transmitted alternating current (AC) system invented by Nikola Tesla and promoted by Westinghouse. Unlike DC, AC could be stepped up to very high voltages with transformers, sent over thinner and cheaper wires, and stepped down again at the destination for distribution to users.

In 1887 there were 121 Edison power stations in the United States delivering DC electricity to customers. When the limitations of Direct Current (DC) were discussed by the public, Thomas Edison launched a propaganda campaign to convince people that Alternating Current (AC) was far too dangerous to use. The problem with DC was that the power plants could only economically deliver DC electricity to customers about one and a half miles from the generating station, so it was only suitable for central business districts. When George Westinghouse suggested using high-voltage AC instead, as it could carry electricity hundreds of miles with marginal loss of power, Thomas Edison waged a “War of Currents” to prevent AC from being adopted.

Despite Thomas Edison’s contempt for capital punishment, the war against AC led him to become involved in the development and promotion of the electric chair as a demonstration of AC’s greater lethal potential versus the “safer” DC. Thomas Edison went on to carry out a brief but intense campaign to ban the use of AC or to limit the allowable voltage for safety purposes. As part of this campaign, Thomas Edison’s employees publicly electrocuted animals to demonstrate the dangers of AC, even though protection from electrocution by AC or DC is essentially the same. On one of the more notable occasions, in 1903, Thomas Edison’s workers electrocuted Topsy the elephant at Luna Park, near Coney Island, after she had killed several men and her owners wanted her put to death. Thomas Edison’s company filmed the electrocution.

AC replaced DC in most instances of generation and power distribution, enormously extending the range and improving the efficiency of power distribution. Though widespread use of DC ultimately lost favor for distribution, it exists today primarily in long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems. Low voltage DC distribution continued to be used in high density downtown areas for many years but was replaced by AC low voltage network distribution in many central business districts. DC had the advantage that large battery banks could maintain continuous power through brief interruptions of the electric supply from generators and the transmission system. Utilities such as Commonwealth Edison in Chicago had rotary converters, also known as motor-generator sets , which could change DC to AC and AC to various frequencies in the early to mid-20th century. Utilities supplied rectifiers to convert the low voltage AC to DC for such DC loads as elevators, fans and pumps. There were still 1,600 DC customers in downtown New York City as of 2005, and service was only finally discontinued on 14 November, 2007. The New York City Subway system is still run by DC power to this day.

Thomas Edison is credited with designing and producing the first commercially available fluoroscope, the machine that takes radiographs (colloquially known as “X-rays”). Until Thomas Edison discovered that calcium tungstate fluoroscopy screens produced brighter images than the barium platinocyanide screens originally used by Wilhelm Röntgen, the technology was only capable of producing very faint images. The fundamental design of Thomas Edison’s fluoroscope is still in use today, despite the fact that Thomas Edison himself abandoned the project after nearly losing his own eyesight and seriously maiming his assistant, Clarence Dally. Clarence Dally had made himself an enthusiastic human guinea pig for the fluoroscopy project and in the process been exposed to a poisonous dose of radiation. Clarence Dally later died of injuries related to the exposure. In 1903, a shaken Thomas Edison said “Don’t talk to me about X-rays, I am afraid of them.”

Frank J. Sprague, a competent mathematician and former naval officer, was recruited by Edward H. Johnson and joined the Edison organization in 1883. One of Sprague’s significant contributions to the Edison Laboratory at Menlo Park was to expand Edison’s mathematical methods. Despite the common belief that Thomas Edison did not use mathematics, analysis of his notebooks reveal that he was an astute user of mathematical analysis, for example, determining the critical parameters of his electric lighting system including lamp resistance by a sophisticated analysis of Ohm’s Law, Joule’s Law and economics. A key to Thomas Edison’s success was an holistic rather than reductionist approach to invention, making extensive use of trial and error. Since Sprague joined Thomas Edison in 1883 and Thomas Edison’s output of patents peaked in 1880, it could be interpreted that the shift towards a reductionist analytical approach may not have been a positive move for Thomas Edison. Sprague’s important analytical contributions, including correcting Thomas Edison’s system of mains and feeders for central station distribution, form a counter argument to this. In 1884, Sprague decided his interests in the exploitation of electricity lay elsewhere, and he left Thomas Edison to found the Sprague Electric Railway & amp; amp; Motor Company. However, Sprague, who later developed many electrical innovations, always credited Thomas Edison for their work together.

Another of Thomas Edison’s assistants was Nikola Tesla, who claimed that Thomas Edison promised him $50,000 if he succeeded in making improvements to his DC generation plants. Nikola Tesla claimed that several months later, when he had finished the work and asked to be paid, Thomas Edison said, “When you become a full-fledged American you will appreciate an American joke.” Nikola Tesla immediately resigned. With Nikola Tesla’s salary of $18 per week, the payment would have amounted to over 53 years pay and the amount was equal to the initial capital of the company. Nikola Tesla resigned when he was refused a raise to $25 per week. Although Nikola Tesla accepted an Edison Medal later in life and professed a high opinion of Thomas Edison as an inventor and engineer, this and other negative series of events concerning Thomas Edison remained with Nikola Tesla. The day after Thomas Edison died, the New York Times contained extensive coverage of Thomas Edison’s life, with the only negative opinion coming from Nikola Tesla who was quoted as saying, “He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene” and that, “His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labour. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor’s instinct and practical American sense.” When Thomas Edison was a very old man and close to death, he said, in looking back, that the biggest mistake he had made was that he never respected Nikola Tesla or his work.

There were 28 men recognized as Edison Pioneers.

The key to Thomas Edison’s fortunes was telegraphy. With knowledge gained from years of working as a telegraph operator, he learned the basics of electricity. This allowed him to make his early fortune with the stock ticker, the first electricity-based broadcast system. Thomas Edison patented the sound recording and reproducing phonograph in 1878. Thomas Edison was also granted a patent for the motion picture camera or “Kinetograph”. Thomas Edison did the electromechanical design, while his employee W.K.L. Dickson, a photographer, worked on the photographic and optical development. Much of the credit for the invention belongs to Dickson. In 1891, Thomas Edison built a Kinetoscope, or peep-hole viewer. This device was installed in penny arcades, where people could watch short, simple films. The kinetograph and kinetoscope were both first publicly exhibited 20 May, 1891.

On 9 August, 1892, Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph. In April 1896, Thomas Armat’s Vitascope, manufactured by the Edison factory and marketed in Edison’s name, was used to project motion pictures in public screenings in New York City. Later he exhibited motion pictures with voice soundtrack on cylinder recordings, mechanically synchronized with the film.

Officially the kinetoscope entered in Europe when the rich American Businessman Irving T. Bush (1869–1948) bought from the Continental Commerce Company of Franck Z. Maguire and Joseph D. Bachus a dozen machines. Bush placed from 17 October, 1894 on the first kinetoscopes in London. At the same time the French company Kinétoscope Edison Michel et Alexis Werner bought these machines for the market in France. In the last 3 months of 1894 The Continental Commerce Company sold hundreds of kinetoscopes in Europe (i.e. the Netherlands and Italy). In Germany and in Austria-Hungary the kinetoscope was introduced by the Deutsche-österreichische-Edison-Kinetoscop Gesellschaft, founded by the Ludwig Stollwerck of the Schokoladen-Süsswarenfabrik Stollwerck & amp; Co of Cologne. The first kinetoscopes arrived in Belgium at the Fairs in early 1895. The Edison’s Kinétoscope Français, a Belgian company, was founded in Brussels on January 15, 1895 with the rights to sell the kinetoscopes in Monaco, France and the French colonies. The main investors in this company were Belgian industrialists. On 14 May, 1895 the Edison’s Kinétoscope Belge was founded in Brussels. The businessman Ladislas-Victor Lewitzki, living in London but active in Belgium and France, took the initiative in starting this business. Thomas Edison had contacts with Leon Gaumont and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. In 1898 he also became shareholder of the Biograph and Mutoscope Company for France.

In 1908, Thomas Edison started the Motion Picture Patents Company, which was a conglomerate of 9 major film studios (commonly known as the Edison Trust). Thomas Edison was the first honorary fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, which was founded in 1929.

Thomas Edison moved from Menlo Park after the death of Mary Stilwell and purchased a home known as “Glenmont” in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey. In the 1880s, Thomas Edison bought property in Fort Myers, Florida, and built Seminole Lodge as a winter retreat. Thomas Edison shared these 2 residences until early in 1931 when his medical needs were better met in West Orange.

Henry Ford, the automobile magnate, later lived a few hundred feet away from Thomas Edison at his winter retreat in Fort Myers, Florida. Thomas Edison even contributed technology to the automobile. They were friends until Thomas Edison’s death.

Officially the kinetoscope entered in Europe when the rich American Businessman Irving T. Bush (1869–1948) bought from the Continental Commerce Company of Franck Z. Maguire and Joseph D. Bachus a dozen machines. Bush placed from October 17, 1894 on the first kinetoscopes in London. At the same time the French company Kinétoscope Edison Michel et Alexis Werner bought these machines for the market in France. In the last three months of 1894 The Continental Commerce Company sold hundreds of kinetoscopes in Europe (i.e. the Netherlands and Italy). In Germany and in Austria-Hungary the kinetoscope was introduced by the Deutsche-österreichische-Edison-Kinetoscop Gesellschaft, founded by the Ludwig Stollwerck of the Schokoladen-Süsswarenfabrik Stollwerck & Co of Cologne. The first kinetoscopes arrived in Belgium at the Fairs in early 1895. The Edison’s Kinétoscope Français, a Belgian company, was founded in Brussels on January 15, 1895 with the rights to sell the kinetoscopes in Monaco, France and the French colonies. The main investors in this company were Belgian industrialists. On May 14, 1895 the Edison’s Kinétoscope Belge was founded in Brussels. The businessman Ladislas-Victor Lewitzki, living in London but active in Belgium and France, took the initiative in starting this business. Thomas Edison had contacts with Leon Gaumont and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. In 1898 he also became shareholder of the Biograph and Mutoscope Company for France.

In 1901, he visited the Sudbury area as a mining prospector, and is credited with the original discovery of the Falconbridge ore body. Thomas Edison attempts to actually mine the ore body were not successful, however, and he abandoned his mining claim in 1903. A street in Falconbridge, as well as the Edison Building, which served as the head office of Falconbridge Mines, are named for him.

In 1902, agents of Thomas Edison bribed a theater owner in London for a copy of A Trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès. Thomas Edison then made hundreds of copies and showed them in New York City. Méliès received no compensation. He was counting on taking the film to US and recapture the huge cost of it by showing it throughout the US when he realized it has already been showing in the US by Edison. This bankrupted Méliès. Other exhibitors similarly routinely copied and exhibited each others films. To better protect the copyrights on his films, Edison deposited prints of them on long strips of photographic paper with the U.S. copyright office. Many of these paper prints survived longer and in better condition than the actual films of that era.

Thomas Edison’s favourite movie was The Birth of a Nation. Thomas Edison thought that talkies had “spoiled everything” for him. “There isn’t any good acting on the screen. They concentrate on the voice now and have forgotten how to act. I can sense it more than you because I am deaf.”

Thomas Edison became the owner of his Milan, Ohio, birthplace in 1906. On his last visit, in 1923, he was shocked to find his old home still lit by lamps and candles.

In 1908, Thomas Edison started the Motion Picture Patents Company, which was a conglomerate of 9 major film studios (commonly known as the Edison Trust). Thomas Edison was the first honorary fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, which was founded in 1929.

In 1928, Thomas Edison joined the Fort Myers Civitan Club. Thomas Edison believed strongly in the organization, writing that “The Civitan Club is doing things–big things–for the community, state, and nation, and I certainly consider it an honor to be numbered in its ranks.” Thomas Edison was an active member in the club until his death, sometimes bringing Henry Ford to the club’s meetings.

Thomas Edison was said to have been influenced by a fad diet that was popular in the day to that in his last few years “the only liquid he consumed was a pint of milk every 3 hours”. Thomas Edison is reported to have believed this diet would restore his health. However, this tale is doubtful. In 1930, the year before Thomas Edison died, Mina said in an interview about him that “Correct eating is one of his greatest hobbies.” Mina also said that during one of his periodic “great scientific adventures”, Thomas Edison would be up at 7:00, have breakfast at 8:00, and be rarely home for lunch or dinner, implying that he continued to have all 3.

Thomas Edison was active in business right up to the end. Just months before his death in 1931, the Lackawanna Railroad implemented electric trains in suburban service from Hoboken to Gladstone, Montclair and Dover in New Jersey. Transmission was by means of an overhead catenary system, with the entire project under Thomas Edison’s guidance. To the surprise of many, he was at the throttle of the very first MU (Multiple-Unit) train to depart Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, driving the train all the way to Dover. As another tribute to his lasting legacy, the same fleet of cars Thomas Edison deployed on the Lackawanna in 1931 served commuters until their retirement in 1984, when some of them were purchased by the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum in Lenox, MA. A special plaque commemorating the joint achievement of both the railway and Thomas Edison, can be seen today in the waiting room of Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, presently operated by New Jersey Transit.

Historian Paul Israel has characterized Thomas Edison as a “freethinker”. Thomas Edison was heavily influenced by Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason. Thomas Edison defended Paine’s “scientific deism,” saying, “He has been called an atheist, but atheist he was not. Paine believed in a supreme intelligence, as representing the idea which other men often express by the name of deity.” In an 2 October, 1910 interview in the New York Times Magazine, Thomas Edison stated:

Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me—the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love—He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us—nature did it all—not the gods of the religions.

Thomas Edison was accused of atheism for those remarks, and although he did not allow himself to be drawn into the controversy publicly, he defended himself in a private letter: “You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God. There is no such denial, what you call God I call Nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter. All the article states is that it is doubtful in my opinion if our intelligence or soul or whatever one may call it lives hereafter as an entity or disperses back again from whence it came, scattered amongst the cells of which we are made.”

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Kean

Thomas Howard Kean was born on 21 April, 1935 in New York City. Thomas Kean is an American Republican Party politician, who served as the 48th Governor of New Jersey, from 1982 to 1990. Thomas Kean is best known globally, however, for his 2002 appointment as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, widely known as the 9/11 Commission, which was responsible for investigating the causes of the September 11, 2001 attacks and providing recommendations to prevent future terrorist attacks. Thomas Kean was appointed to this post by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Thomas Kean (sounds like cane) was born in New York City to a long line of New Jersey politicians. Thomas Kean’s mother was Elizabeth Howard and his father, Robert Kean, was a U.S. Congressman. Thomas Kean’s grandfather Hamilton Fish Kean and grand-uncle John Kean both served as U.S. Senators. Thomas Kean’s other grand-uncle was Hamilton Fish, a U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, and U.S. Secretary of State. Also, Thomas Kean’s great-great grandfather was a delegate to the Continental Congress.

Thomas Kean was educated at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts, and then at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey and Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.

Originally a teacher of history and government, Thomas Kean was elected, in 1967, as a Republican to the New Jersey General Assembly.

With a split among the Assembly’s Democrats, Thomas Kean obtained the support of one of the Democratic factions and thereby was elected New Jersey Assembly Speaker in 1972. In the next Assembly, in 1974, the Democrats united behind one candidate for Speaker; Thomas Kean then became the minority leader of the Assembly. In 1973, he briefly served as acting New Jersey Governor.

Governor Kean visiting Fort Dix, November 1987.In 1977, Thomas Kean ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the governor of New Jersey.

Although he spent most of his career as a political moderate, in this race Thomas Kean ran to the right of New Jersey Senate Minority Leader Raymond Bateman. Raymond defeated Thomas and won the nomination, though Raymond went on to lose the general election to Brendan Byrne.

Thomas Kean fared better 4 years later, in 1981, when he again ran for Governor. Thomas Kean defeated U.S. Representative James Florio in the closest election in New Jersey gubernatorial election history; Thomas Kean won by fewer than 1,800 votes.

Thomas Kean proved hugely popular in office. In striking contrast to his slim 1981 victory, he won re-election in 1985 with the largest margin of victory in the history of New Jersey gubernatorial races, defeating Peter Shapiro, then Essex County Executive, 71%-24%. Thomas Kean won every municipality in the state except Audubon Park and Chesilhurst in Camden County and Roosevelt in Monmouth County.

In 1988, reflecting his stature as an up-and-coming leader of the Republican Party’s moderate wing, Thomas Kean delivered the keynote speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans. The same year, he also authored a book, The Politics of Inclusion, published by Free Press, which urged political cooperation among historically divided interest groups and politicians.

Limited to 2 terms as governor by the New Jersey State Constitution, Thomas Kean left office in January, 1990 as one of the most popular political figures in New Jersey political history. Former New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester, New Jersey Congressman Bob Franks, and other leading New Jersey and national Republican figures began their political and public policy careers in his state administration. Thomas Kean was succeeded by Florio, who won a landslide victory in November 1989.

Following the end of his second Gubernatorial term, Thomas Kean was named President of Drew University, a small liberal arts university in Madison, New Jersey. Thomas Kean’s considerable standing as a popular former governor of the state was helpful as he undertook an upgrading of the university’s campus and academic programs.

Extremely popular among the student body, Thomas Kean served as Drew’s President until 2005.

While leading Drew University, Thomas Kean also continued to expand his role as a national political leader, forging close working relationships with the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton (with whom he had worked closely in the National Governors Association) and George W. Bush, who saw Thomas Kean as an important national political ally.

Former Heritage Foundation foreign policy analyst Michael Johns and other national policy and political leaders were recruited by Thomas Kean to support and help administer his growing involvement in a broad range of national policy initiatives in the fields of education, environmental, low-income housing, foreign policy and other issues. As Governor, Thomas Kean had some degree of national recognition as the spokesperson for a New Jersey tourism commercial, in which he cited the state’s tourism motto: “New Jersey and You: Perfect Together.” With Johns’ support, Thomas Kean also quickly established foreign policy and national security credentials following his Governorship that ultimately proved important in his gaining appointment by President George W. Bush to head the 9/11 Commission.

Beginning in 1990, Thomas Kean for the first time began expressing views on foreign policy and national security matters, views that generally mirrored those of the Republican Party. In a 15 December, 1991 speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Thomas Kean endorsed the free trade initiatives then under way by the administration of former President George H. W. Bush. Thomas Kean also advocated continued U.S. aid to anti-communist resistance forces in Afghanistan, Angola, and to those engaged in supporting democratic change in the former Soviet Union. “To those supporting the Afghan resistance,” Thomas Kean told the Heritage Foundation audience in 1991, “I say, carry on.”

Thomas Kean quickly was appointed to the boards of several important foreign policy bodies, including the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was heavily engaged in supporting democracy-building programs in former Eastern bloc and other nations around the world, and a Presidential advisory commission on a post-Castro Cuba, chaired by former U.S. Presidential Republican candidate Steve Forbes.

Several years later, in 1997, Thomas Kean was appointed as an Advisory Board member of President Clinton’s One America Initiative, designed to help heal racial divides in the nation.

Following the 9/11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda, political pressure grew for an independent commission to independently investigate why the attacks were not prevented by U.S. national security organizations, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, National Security Agency and others, and to provide recommendations for preventing future terrorist attacks.

The cover of the final 9/11 Commission report Bush initially selected former Nixon Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to head the Commission, known as the “National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States”, or the 9/11 Commission. But on 13 December, 2002, Kissinger resigned as the Commission’s Chairman, under pressure because of potential conflicts with his global business consulting.

Noting Thomas Kean’s post-Gubernatorial foreign policy involvement and his reputation as a consensus-oriented political leader, President Bush nominated Thomas Kean to succeed Kissinger in leading the important and politically-sensitive Commission. The Commission is widely considered the most important independent U.S. government commission since the Warren Commission, which was charged with investigating the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and perhaps the most important in American history given its mammoth responsibility for investigating the causes of the first foreign attack on the U.S. mainland since the War of 1812, and recommending steps to defend the U.S. from future attacks. Thomas Kean’s appointment to head the Commission, and later the work and final report of the Commission, drew substantial global attention.

Just as some had criticised Kissinger’s nomination, Thomas Kean’s leadership of the Commission also drew some criticism. Some alleged that Thomas Kean did not have the depth of foreign policy and national security expertise needed to manage an investigation so integral to the future of American national security. Supporters of Thomas Kean in the Bush administration and elsewhere, however, countered that Thomas Kean’s work since 1990 as a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, the post-Castro Cuba Commission and his foreign policy and national security commentary and analysis following his Governorship established adequate national secrurity and foreign policy credentials for him to assume such a critically important assignment.

Once the Commission began its work, some critics argued that Thomas Kean, the Commission members, and the Commission staff almost all had various business and political conflicts that made it difficult to lay blame on their political allies. One prominent example was the Commission’s Staff Director, Philip D. Zelikow, who had served on George W. Bush’s Presidential transition team and had worked closely with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a key Commission witness, in the George H. W. Bush administration.

Thomas Kean has also been criticized for using his role as the chairman of the 9/11 Commission in order to make profit, such as his book, Without Precedent. Some also argue that his endorsement of the television movie, The Path to 9/11, was misguided. The film features some scenes which are known to be false, according to those involved and the official 9/11 Commission Report. Thomas Kean was also a paid consultant to the film and was credited as an executive producer.

In December 2003, Thomas Kean said that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented, stating: “As you read the report, you’re going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn’t done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen.”

On 4 April, 2004, Thomas Kean again stated that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented, saying that the United States government should have acted sooner to dismantle al-Qaeda and responded more quickly to other terrorist threats. “When we actually saw bin Laden on the ground, using the Predator or other means, did we have…actionable intelligence? Should we have sent a cruise missile into a site where he was at that point? I think those early opportunities are clear. We had him. We saw him. I think maybe we could have done something about it.”

On 22 July, 2004 the Commission issued its final report, the 9/11 Commission Report, which concluded that the CIA and the FBI had ill-served President Bush and the American people in failing to predict or prevent the September 11 attacks, which the report concluded was preventable.

On 15 August, 2006 a book by Thomas Kean and 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton, titled Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, was released regarding the September 11 attacks and the September 11 Commission.

In the book, Thomas Kean and Hamilton write that the 9/11 Commission was so frustrated with repeated misstatements by officials from The Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration during their investigation that they considered a separate investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Pentagon and FAA officials.

Thomas Kean served as a paid consultant and spokesman for the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11, which aired nationally and without commercial interruption on 10 September, 2006. On September 11, the second part of the miniseries aired, also without commercial interruption, with the exception of a 20-minute break at 9pm ET, when President Bush addressed the nation on the 5th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

While not technically considered a documentary by ABC, prior to its airing, the series drew criticism for misrepresenting facts leading up the September 11 attacks. Many former high-ranking Clinton administration officials, including Clinton himself, and other scholars, publicly questioned the accuracy of the miniseries and asked that it not be aired. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the miniseries’ portrayal of her “false and defamatory.”. Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine also strongly criticized her character’s portrayal, complaining in the Los Angeles Times about the “mythmakers” who created the film, calling the project “false.” The film depicts Clinton and his administration with being aloof in addressing the al-Qaeda threat, failing to intervene in ways that could have prevented the attack, and being too absorbed in the political dimensions of the Monica Lewinsky scandal to properly defend the nation’s national security interests.

Thomas Kean defended the docudrama in July 2006 and until the eve of the broadcast, declining to disclose the amount of his payment from ABC for supporting the project.

On 4 July, 2007 the terrorist group al-Qaeda publicly released a video, featuring its Deputy Chief Ayman al-Zawahri urging all Muslims to unite in a holy war against the U.S. in Iraq and elsewhere. The 95-minute video was discovered and released by U.S. intelligence sources and, in addition to al-Zawahri’s comments, prominently featured video excerpts of Thomas Kean citing al-Qaeda as one of the most formidable security threats that the U.S. has ever confronted, presumably with the intention of bolstering the morale of al-Qaeda supporters through Thomas Kean’s citation of the magnitude of the movement’s strength and threat. Comments by Thomas Kean cited on the video include a reference to the fact that al-Qaeda remains as strong in 2007 as it was before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The video also appeared to validate that al-Qaeda was closely monitoring U.S. political developments, especially including the work of the September 11 Commission, which Thomas Kean chaired. It also suggested that al-Qaeda intended to focus not just on engaging the West in Iraq, but also in other countries. “As for the second half of the long-term plan,” al-Zawahri says on the video, “it consists of hurrying to the fields of Jihad like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia for Jihadi preparation and training.”

As of 2004, Thomas Kean was a member of a number of corporate board of directors, including ARAMARK, Hess Corporation, Pepsi Bottling Group, and major financial firms CIT Group Incorporated and Franklin Templeton Investments.

Since 1993, Thomas Kean has also been on the board of United Health Group, a large health insurance firm. In 2006, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the conduct of the company’s management and directors.

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York subpoenaed documents from the company. The investigations came to light after a series of probing articles in The Wall Street Journal in May 2006, which reported on the apparent backdating of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of stock options by UnitedHealth Group’s management. The backdating allegedly occurred with the knowledge and approval of the directors, including Thomas Kean, who sat on the company’s compensation committee during 3 crucial years, according to the Journal. Major shareholders have filed lawsuits accusing Thomas Kean and the other directors of failing in their fiduciary duty.

In 2004, Thomas Kean’s compensation from United Health Group alone was more than $650,000; in that year, as a corporate director, he missed more than a quarter of the company’s board-related meetings.

Thomas Kean and his wife Deborah have 3 children, a daughter, Alexandra, and identical-twin sons, Tom and Reed. They live in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Thomas Kean’s son, Tom, Jr., is a New Jersey State Senator, representing New Jersey’s 21st district. Thomas Jr, was also the Republican Senatorial nominee in the November 2006 general election, losing to Democrat Bob Menendez.

Thomas Kean is also a weekly columnist for the Star-Ledger, a Newark, New Jersey newspaper, where he and former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne (his immediate predecessor as New Jersey Governor) address issues of the day in a column titled “Kean-Byrne Dialogue”. Although both men sometimes disagree (as Kean is a Republican, while Byrne is a Democrat), they occasionally see eye to eye on topics, and both men have expressed great mutual respect for each other.

Thomas Kean is an advisor to, and has been inducted into, Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity.

Thomas Kean is a partner in Quad Partners, a private equity firm that invests in the education industry.

On 19 November, 2007 Thomas Kean endorsed John McCain for the 2008 presidential race.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Dorsey

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born on 1 July, 1899 in Villa Rica, Georgia, USA and died on 23 January, 1993 in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas is known as “the father of gospel music”. Earlier in his life he was a leading blues pianist known as Georgia Tom.

As formulated by Thomas Dorsey, gospel music combines Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and the blues. Thomas’ conception also deviates from what had been, to that time, standard hymnal practice by referring explicitly to the self, and the self’s relation to faith and God, rather than the individual subsumed into the group via belief.

Thomas Dorsey was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago from 1932 until the late 1970s. Thomas’ best known composition, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, was performed by Mahalia Jackson and was a favorite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, and “Peace in the Valley”, which was a hit for Red Foley in 1951 and has been performed by dozens of other artists, including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

In 2002, the Library of Congress honored his album Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973), by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry.

Thomas Dorsey’s father was a minister and his mother a piano teacher. Thomas Dorsey learned to play blues piano as a young man. After studying music formally in Chicago, he became an agent for Paramount Records. Thomas Dorsey put together a band for Ma Rainey called the “Wild Cats Jazz Band” in 1924.

Thomas Dorsey started out playing at rent parties with the names Barrelhouse Tom and Texas Tommy, but he was most famous as Georgia Tom. As Georgia Tom, he teamed up with Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) with whom he recorded the raunchy 1928 hit record “Tight Like That”, a sensation, selling seven million copies. In all, he is credited with more than 400 blues and jazz songs.

Personal tragedy led Thomas Dorsey to leave secular music behind and began writing and recording what he called “gospel” music. Thomas Dorsey was the first to use that term. Thomas Dorsey’s first wife, Nettie, who had been Rainey’s wardrobe mistress, died in childbirth in 1932 along with his first son. In his grief, he wrote his most famous song, one of the most famous of all gospel songs, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”.

Unhappy with the treatment received at the hands of established publishers, Thomas Dorsey opened the first black gospel music publishing company, Thomas Dorsey House of Music. Thomas Dorsey also founded his own gospel choir and was a founder and first president of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.

Thomas Dorsey’s influence was not limited to African American music, as white musicians also followed his lead. “Precious Lord” has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Clara Ward, Roy Rogers, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, among hundreds of others. It was a favorite gospel song of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was sung at the rally the night before his assassination, and at his funeral by Mahalia Jackson, per his request. It was also a favorite of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who requested it to be sung at his funeral. Thomas Dorsey was also a great influence on other Chicago based gospel artists such as “Queen of Gospel” Albertina Walker and The Caravans.

Thomas Dorsey wrote “Peace in the Valley” for Mahalia Jackson in 1937, which also became a gospel standard. Thomas Dorsey was the first African American elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and also the first in the Gospel Music Association’s Living Hall of Fame. Thomas Dorsey was inducted into the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in 2007. Thomas Dorsey papers are preserved at Fisk University, along with those of W.C. Handy, George Gershwin, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

The works of Thomas A. Dorsey have proliferated beyond performance, into the hymnals of virtually all American churches and of English-speaking churches worldwide.

Thomas Dorsey was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.

In 2007, he was inducted as a charter member of the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in Richmond, Indiana.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Jackson

Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson was born on 21 January, 1824 and died on 10 May, 1863. Thomas Jackson was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and probably the most revered Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee. Thomas rose to prominence and earned his most famous nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as First Manassas) in July 1861. As the Confederate lines began to crumble under heavy Union assault, Thomas’ brigade provided crucial reinforcements on Henry House Hill, demonstrating the discipline he instilled in his men. Thomas Jackson had suffered from OCD.

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison was born on 11 February, 1847 and died on 18 October, 1931.  Thomas was an American inventor of Dutch origin and businessman who developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph and a long lasting light bulb. In school, the young Edison’s mind often wandered. Thomas was noted to be terrible at mathematics, unable to focus, and had difficulty with words and speech. This ended Edison’s three months of official schooling. The cause of Edison’s deafness has been attributed to a bout of scarlet fever during childhood and recurring untreated middle ear infections. Thomas Edison was dyslexic, a problem child, and a mischief-maker. Thomas talked when he was supposed to be listening and did not listen when the teacher talked. Thomas had no patience. Thomas was not well-coordinated and did poorly in sports. Thomas applied himself with a passion to whatever caught his attention, but his attention was easily diverted.

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Cerebral Palsy Series-Disabled Legend Thomas Ritter

Thomas Ritter was an Attorney and a former UCPA Board of Directors. Brother of Actor John Ritter. Father, Tex Ritter, helped start United Cerebral Palsy Associations, Inc. Thomas Ritter was born with cerebral palsy. In 1979, his brother, John Ritter, helped raise money for the disease.

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