Thomas Edison is quoted as saying:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
In case you are a little rusty on history, Thomas Edison was one of our great American inventors. The lights that we can see around the globe from outer space can be attributed to a man who literally lit up the world. The music that we enjoy was first recorded by this man. We, in Florida, benefited from his concrete houses when hurricanes tear through our state. These inventions and so many more are those of an inquisitive mind who did not mind hard work. Edison liked to say, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
Who was Thomas Edison?
“People often say Edison was a genius. He answered, “Genius is hard work, stick-to-it-iveness, and common sense.”
Thomas Alva Edison was born February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio (pronounced MY-lan). In 1854, when he was seven, the family moved to Michigan, where Edison spent the rest of his childhood.
“Al,” as he was called as a boy, went to school only a short time. He did so poorly that his mother, a former teacher, taught her son at home. Al learned to love reading, a habit he kept for the rest of his life. He also liked to make experiments in the basement.
(It is surprising how many people who have touched the world with their creativity were home-schooled or allowed to skip school. Some may not know that the great movie maker, Stephen Spielberg, was often taken out of school by his mother to attend concerts, see the great art galleries and more when he was a child.)
Al not only played hard, but also worked hard. At the age of 12 he sold fruit, snacks and newspapers on a train as a “news butcher.” (Trains were the newest way to travel, cutting through the American wilderness.) He even printed his own newspaper, the Grand Trunk Herald, on a moving train.
At 15, Al roamed the country as a “tramp telegrapher.” Using a kind of alphabet called Morse Code, he sent and received messages over the telegraph. Even though he was already losing his hearing, he could still hear the clicks of the telegraph. In the next seven years, he moved over a dozen times, often working all night, taking messages for trains and even for the Union Army during the Civil War. In his spare time, he took things apart to see how they worked. Finally, he decided to invent things himself.
After the failure of his first invention, the electric vote recorder, Edison moved to New York City. There he improved the way the stock ticker worked. This was his big break. By 1870 his company was manufacturing his stock ticker in Newark, New Jersey. He also improved the telegraph, making it send up to four messages at once.
… Edison moved from Newark to Menlo Park, New Jersey, in 1876. There he built his most famous laboratory. He was not alone in Menlo Park. Edison hired “muckers” to help him out. (Old English word meaning low-level laborers) These “muckers” came from all over the world to make their fortune in America. They often stayed up all night working with the “chief mucker,” Edison himself. He is sometimes called the “Wizard of Menlo Park” because he created two of his three greatest works there.
The phonograph was the first machine that could record the sound of someone’s voice and play it back. In 1877, Edison recorded the first words on a piece of tin foil. He recited the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and the phonograph played the words back to him. This was invented by a man whose hearing was so poor that he thought of himself as “deaf”!
Starting in 1878, Edison and the muckers worked on one of his greatest achievements. The electric light system was more than just the incandescent lamp, or “light bulb.” Edison also designed a system of power plants that make the electrical power and the wiring that brings it to people’s homes…
In 1885, one year after his first wife died, Edison met a 20-year-old woman named Mina Miller. Her father was an inventor in Edison’s home state of Ohio. Edison taught her Morse Code. Even when others were around, the couple could “talk” to each other secretly. One day he tapped a question into her hand: would she marry him? She tapped back the word “yes.”… (Practical…but not so romantic)
Edison built a laboratory in West Orange that was ten times larger than the one in Menlo Park. In fact, it was one of the largest laboratories in the world, almost as famous as Edison himself. Well into the night, laboratory buildings glowed with electric light while the Wizard and his “muckers” turned Edison’s dreams into inventions. Once, the “chief mucker” worked for three days straight, taking only short naps. Edison earned half of his 1,093 patents in West Orange…
Not only did Edison improve the phonograph several times, but he also worked on X-rays, storage batteries, and the first talking doll. At West Orange, he also worked on one of his greatest ideas: motion pictures, or “movies.” The inventions made here changed the way we live even today. He worked here until his death on October 18, 1931, at the age of 84.
(from the National Park Service)
Edison would certainly say, “Try…try…and try again.” for whatever you try to accomplish with your God-given abilities.
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