Black and white photograph of American inventor Thomas Alva Edison.

Thomas Alva Edison

(1847 - 1931)

The son of a politically radical Canadian, Thomas Alva Edison held a record 1,093 U.S. patents and was the inventor of, among other things, the phonograph. The “Wizard of Menlo Park” stumbled upon the idea while attempting to design a machine that would transcribe telephone signals into telegraph messages.

All Writing


Thomas Edison is popularly credited with initiating the practice of saying “Hello” when answering the telephone. His rival Alexander Graham Bell preferred “Ahoy” (as used on ships) as a phone greeting and used it for the rest of his life. The first phone book, published in 1878, instructed users to begin conversations with “a firm and cheery ‘Hulloa.’ ” (To end conversations, it recommended “That is all.”) By 1889 telephone-exchange operators were known as “hello girls.”


“His method was inefficient in the extreme,” scoffed Nikola Tesla in 1931 in a New York Times obituary for his former employer and longtime scientific competitor, Thomas Edison. “In view of this, the truly prodigious amount of his actual accomplishments is little short of miracle.”

Voices In Time

1921 | West Orange, NJ

Missed Opportunity

For Thomas Edison, education before entertainment.More


Thomas Edison received three months of formal education at the age of eight before his mother homeschooled him. Benjamin Franklin quit school at age ten, Charles Dickens at twelve.

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