Thomas Alva Edison (1847 –1931) -- inventor, scientist, and businessman--developed many innovative devices that revolutionized life around the globe. His pioneering prowess included the master blueprint for the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the electric light bulb.
Edison was a trailblazer for applying the principles of mass production and teamwork to the process of invention.
While working as a railway newsboy on the Detroit-Port Huron line, Tom Edison often stopped in Mount Clemens. He made friends with station agent J. U. Mackenzie and in 1862, saved Mackenzie's young son from death by a train. In gratitude Mr. Mackenzie taught Tom Edison railroad telegraphy.
From his training, Tom became a qualified railroad telegrapher and worked during the 1860s at this occupation. Some of his earliest inventions were based on the telegraph. Like many local young people of his era, Thomas A. Edison gained employment on the rail cars publishing a local newspaper which he later used to finance his career as an inventor.
The Grand Trunk Railroad depot is where twelve-year-old Tom Edison departed daily on the Port Huron-Detroit run. In 1859, young Tom persuaded the company to let him sell newspapers and confections on the daily trips. He became so successful that he soon placed two newsboys on other Grand Trunk runs to Detroit. Subsequently, Tom made enough money to support himself and to finance many the great ideas that lead to his many inventions.
With over 1,000 U.S. patents in his name, Edison has been recognized as one of the most prolific inventors in our nation’s history. Perhaps his most noted contribution has to do with his ground-breaking work in the area of mass communication and telecommunications. Other accomplishments include his ingenious efforts that lead to his invention of a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.
His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison originated the concept and implementation of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world.
Thomas Alva Edison’s great ideas contributed greatly not only to Michigan-- but the world as well.