Edison’s Light Bulb and Other Inventions

March 27, 2015 by  
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By Samuel Phineas Upham

It might surprise you to learn that Thomas Edison was largely self-educated, but it’s true according to records on the matter. His mother had been employed as a teacher, so she was well equipped to guide him and provide him with material to study. As a young lad, Edison received only about three months worth of formal education in a school house. The rest of his learning came from what he picked up at home.

Fortunately, Edison was a voracious reader. This is perhaps thanks in part to the unfortunate fact that his hearing was never very good. By his middle age, he’d be almost completely deaf.

Edison started his working life as a newspaper boy. He sold papers to passengers at train stations from a great trunk he carried with him. This inspired him to start an organization of his own, the Grand Trunk Herald. It did fairly well and earned him the money he needed to set up a small laboratory. Edison’s true passions were in tinkering: chemistry, engineering and all things science. He set up in one of the baggage cars, and would have continued unnoticed had he not started a fire during one of his experiments.

But Edison shifted from tinkerer to proper inventor once he moved to New York. It was there that he invented the stock ticker, which earned him a $40,000 payoff. This fueled extensive experimentation on ore, telephones and electric lighting. This is where Edison’s name carries the greatest recognition. Most people know him as the inventor of the light bulb, an accurate but broad description.

Edison invented the first commercial practical incandescent light, a bulb that promised 1,200 hours of continuous light.


About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Facebook.