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Thomas Alva Edison

1847-1931. Inventor. Born in Ohio, he was a newspaper boy at eleven and later became a telegraph operator. In 1868 he purchased Faraday's Experimental Researches in Electricity which inspired his life's work. Of his 1,100 inventions, the best known are the phonograph, the electric lamp (Edison's used a carbon filament), and the alkaline storage battery. He discovered the “Edison effect,” later utilized in Fleming's thermionic valve, and was also responsible for the first industrial research laboratory. Edison was a strong believer in God: “The existence of an intelligent Creator, a personal God, can to my mind almost be proved from chemistry.” He was motivated by a firm faith that, where man faced technological problems, God had in nature supplied materials necessary to solve them. Thus despite early losses, no difficulty daunted him.