Famous Home Scholars: Thomas Edison

A brave child was born in Ohio during the mid-1800s. With his abnormally large head and unusually questioning mind, it took only three months to convince his public school teachers that he was uneducable. His mother, knowing better, took over.

With persistence, she overcame his “schooling,” teaching him to read classics of history and science. At age 13 he desired money for lab equipment and chemicals, and took a job delivering newspapers, always adding to his self-education at public libraries. His time was limited because he also published his own newspaper and conducted chemistry experiments in his homemade laboratory. Gracefully accepting deafness from an accident, he said it increased his ability to concentrate on his work.

When a fire ended his work in both chemistry and publication, he turned to the telegraph for earnings. After saving the life of a child playing on a railroad, he was rewarded with telegraph operator instruction.

Earning unexpected money from his inventions, he built a successful career as an inventor. Along the way, he patented many less well known innovations, such as an electric vote counter, a delayed telegraph for slower transcribers, and a dictating machine. He also started use of the word “hello” as a telephone greeting.

His famous inventions include the phonograph, the motion picture camera and projector, and, of course, the electric light bulb.

Working closely with Henry Ford and Alexander Bell, he came to “count his medals by the quart.”

I owed my success to the fact that I never had a clock in my workroom,” was the motto of Thomas A. Edison, home scholar.

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