Top 10 Inventions by Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is probably one of the most celebrated inventors till this day as his inventions like the light bulb and the phonograph are things whose modern versions are an indispensable part of our lives. He was an American inventor and businessman. He is often referred as “The Wizard of Menlo Park” as his first demonstration of the magical light bulb was held at his laboratory which is in Menlo, California. It is said that Edison wasn’t a very good student at school and was often punished for being absent minded and that was that. His mom got him out of school and taught him herself. Thanks to his mother, he grew up to become one of the people who made the world better with their efforts and genius.

Edison was a busy inventor, holding 1,093 US patents to his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. More significant than the number of Edison’s patents was the widespread impact of his inventions: electric light and power utilities sound recording and motion pictures all established major new industries worldwide. Edison’s last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at the Henry ford museum. Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor’s room shortly after his death, as a memento. Coming back to his work, Edison’s inventions contributed to mass communication and also helped spawn the commercialization of scientific inventions for mass production.

So let’s take a look at the top ten inventions by Thomas Edison.

10. Iron ore separator

Thomas Edison experimented during the 1880′s and 1890′s with using magnets to separate iron ore from low grade, unusable ores. His giant mine project in northwestern NJ consumed huge amounts of money as experimentation plodded forward. Engineering problems and a decline in the price of iron ore [the discovery of the Mesabi iron rich ore deposits near the Great Lakes] lead this invention to be abandoned. But nevertheless it was an invention worth reading about.

At a time when magnetism wasn’t regarded as a real science Edison used its power to work out this problem of separating the magnetic substance (the ore) from the non magnetic substance (the impurities) and that too at a large mechanical scale.

9. Stock ticker


Most of us have no idea what this invention must have been about, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great. Thomas Edison invented this Universal Stock Printer for New York’s Gold and Stock Telegraph Company in 1871.  Prior to the development of the “stock ticker,” local messenger boys ran price updates from exchange floors to brokers’ offices.  Edison’s stock printer combined the speed and long distance capabilities of the electric telegraph with a simple “ticker tape” printing mechanism that enabled the near instantaneous reporting of stock, bond, and commodity prices from exchange floors to brokers and investors across the country.

Communications technologies like the stock ticker, telegraph, and telephone were readily adopted by large corporations and financial firms that depended on timely information to coordinate their internal operations while responding to external market fluctuations.

8. First commercial fluoroscope (for X-ray)


Thomas Edison is credited with designing the first commercially available fluoroscope, a machine that uses X-rays to take radiographs. Until Edison discovered that calcium tungstate fluoroscopy screens produced brighter images than the barium platino cyanide screens originally used by Wilhelm Röntgen, the technology was capable of producing only very faint images.

The fundamental design of Edison’s fluoroscope is still in use today, although Edison himself abandoned the project after nearly losing his own eyesight and seriously injuring his assistant, Clarence Dally. Dally had made himself an enthusiastic human guinea pig for the fluoroscopy project and in the process been exposed to a poisonous dose of radiation. He later died of injuries related to the exposure. In 1903, a shaken Edison said “Don’t talk to me about X-rays, I am afraid of them.”

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Ankur is curious about a lot of things and and he'd love to tell you about them some day.