As an inventor, scientist, and businessman, Edison developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world.
In addition to a longer-lasting light bulb, he also gave us a universal stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, electrical power, recorded music, motion pictures, and more.
Edison holds over a thousand U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.
We poured over those patents and picked out the best of Edison’s 1,093 patents, starting with the most important.
ELECTRICITY FROM DRY CHEMICAL REACTIONS: Edison realized he could generate electricity by filling an iron pot with iron oxides.
PRACTICAL ELECTRIC LAMP: Edison’s carbon filament light bulb was the first commercially viable electric light. Previous versions were not as durable and used expensive materials such as platinum.
ELECTRIC LIGHTING SYSTEM: Edison’s system of electric lighting was designed to maintain the same amount of electricity throughout the device.
ELECTRICAL CURRENT CONVERTER: The device lowered electrical currents from high to low tensions so as to save energy.
CARBON TELEPHONE: In the history of the telephone, Edison is best known for the carbon transmitter that became the basis of telephone transmitters for more than a century.
THE ELECTROGRAPHIC VOTE RECORDER: Edison’s first patent. It permitted a “yes” or “no” vote via one of two switches.
PERFORATING TYPEWRITER: Edison improved the typewriter by creating a typewriter that made clearer marks. It left perforated marks on a sheet of paper which were later filled with ink.
SIMPLIFIED TELEGRAPH: In an effort to improve the telegraph, Edison produced one that did not require someone to manually tap out the message at the receiving end.
FASTER ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH: Edison’s electric telegraph improved the speed in which signals were sent and received compared to earlier models.
SPEAKING TELEGRAPH: Edison further improved the telegraph by creating a “speaking telegraph” that transmitted words that were clearer and more distinct.
UNIVERSAL STOCK TICKER: Edison claimed his stock ticker, or telegraph, was faster and easier to repair than existing print telegraphs.
KINETOGRAPHIC CAMERA: The camera showed successive photos in a rapid speed so as to make them appear to be moving.
CHEAPER PHOTOGRAPHIC FILM: Edison sought to improve film with a more affordable version that allowed more light to pass through. He used a strip of low carbon steel that was perforated.
TURN TABLE FOR ELECTRIC RAILWAY: Edison’s invention was powered by an electric current that ran through the rails to reduce the chances of a short-circuit.
ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE: Edison created the electric locomotive for areas where traffic was too light for the typical steam locomotives.
ELECTRIC RAILWAY: Edison’s electric railway consisted of conductors that were concealed between the rails, protecting them from short-circuiting.
ELECTRO MAGNETIC BRAKE: The electro magnetic brake was designed to stop vehicles on a railroad.
PHONOGRAPH: The phonograph recorded and reproduced audible sounds using metallic foil on a cylinder.
PERFORATING PEN: Powered by a foot pedal, the perforating pen punctured sheets of paper, creating stencils of handwritten documents and drawings.
STENCIL PEN: The stencil pen was the predecessor to tattoo pens.
ELECTRICAL METER FOR DC POWER: Edison created an electrical meter that measured the electrical energy used from a DC generator, as opposed to an AC generator.
IMPROVED AUTOMOBILE: Although Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built the first self-propelled automobile in 1769, Edison designed an automobile whose wheels were better aligned with the car.
WOOD AND RUBBER WHEEL: Edison designed a wheel that contained a tire made from wood and rubber for added traction.
MOTOR THAT REGULATES ELECTRICITY: Edison designed a motor to help control the supply of electricity between devices such as lamps.
ORE SEPARATOR: Edison designed an device that separates magnetic and non-magnetic materials.
ALKALINE BATTERY: While experimenting with an iron and nickle battery, Edison discovered an alkaline solution that produced an longer-lasting battery.
ROCK CRUSHER: Edison used two hard rollers to crush rocks.
DOLL PHONOGRAPH: Edison sought to create a phonograph that was small and cheap enough to be reproduced for dolls.
FLUORESCENT ELECTRIC LAMP: Edison created a fluorescent electric lamp using tungsten of calcium and strontium.
INCANDESCENT CHANDELIER: Edison grouped several incandescent lamps together to create the chandelier.