February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio (United States) - October 18, 1931, in West Orange, New Jersey (United States).
Nicknamed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" he was a great scientist of his time with more than 1,000 inventions in his career, which would mean developing one every 15 days, which drastically transformed the culture, habits and customs of the society of his time and of the future of the next generations.
Researcher, restless, tireless and great businessman, he worked in fields as diverse as optics, acoustics or electricity. He had a natural ability to apply technical knowledge to everyday life, which allowed his discoveries to acquire great importance in people's lives.
His first patent was in 1868, for a very simple instrument for the mechanical counting of votes. It was a kind of box for each representative and consisted of two buttons, one for the vote in favor and the other for the vote against.
Although he is credited with inventing the incandescent lamp, he actually only perfected it after many attempts. His great achievement was a filament that reached incandescence without melting. This was carbonated cotton. On October 21, 1879, he got his first light bulb to work for 48 hours straight.
Its mass production made it possible to considerably reduce the cost of obtaining electricity, so that even people with limited economic resources could enjoy the possibility of lighting their homes.
Another of his great inventions was the phonograph that allowed recording and reproducing any type of sound. It represented a great advance and was the precedent of the gramophone and record players.
He also made great contributions to the world of cinema. In 1889, he marketed 35mm celluloid film, although he was unable to patent it because George Eastman had already done so. Instead, he was able to patent the lateral perforations that this type of film has. To do this, he replaced the classic rigid piece of glass in Eastman's film with a flexible film, on the edges of which he applied perforations that allowed several toothed wheels to make it rotate fast enough to make the discontinuities between photographs imperceptible.
He also created an experimental sound film in which the image was coordinated with the sound of a phonograph record.
As important as his inventions was his attitude towards technological invention, which led him to create, in 1876, the first industrial research laboratory, the forerunner of modern technological experimentation centers, organized around scientific, technical and specialist teams. .