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Early Years

Wizard of Menlo Park

Invention Factory

 

 


Wizard of Menlo Park
August 2004

In 1870, Edison made his breakthrough, developing an improved stock ticker. He set up a company in Newark to make the new ticker. Over the next few years in Newark, he made many improvements to the telegraph and created an electric pen and a copying device.

Looking to expand his laboratory, Edison moved to Menlo Park in 1876. Working with a team of talented assistants, he created the nation's first industrial research laboratory. Teamwork was crucial to Edison's success.

Two of Edison's most famous inventions, the phonograph and the electric light system, were developed at Menlo Park. His accomplishments earned him the nickname the "Wizard of Menlo Park."

Edison's work to improve the telephone led to the invention of the phonograph in 1877. The phonograph (similar to a record player) was the first device that could record and play back sound. Edison said, "Mary had a little lamb," and the phonograph played his voice back.

The next year, Edison began working on an electric light system that could provide light to an entire city. After developing the first light bulb that lasted long enough to light a home, he and his team created a system of power plants and wiring to bring electric current into people's homes.

The first electric light factory opened in Newark in 1881. By the next year Edison had installed a light system in the financial district of Lower Manhattan that supported 400 lamps. By 1883, the system supported more than 10,000 lamps. Edison remained in the electric lighting business until 1892, when Edison General Electric merged with the Thomson-Houston Company to form General Electric.

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