Thomas Edison
April 12, 2019
Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, on Febuary 11, 1847. Edison began his career as an inventor in Newark, New Jersey, giving him the nick name "The Wizard of Menlo Park". Edison is accredited with inventing the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. He held 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.Edison began working on a system of electrical lighting in 1878, something he hoped would replace gas and oil based lighting. That same year, J. P. Morgan and the members of the Vanderbilt family helped Edison form and finance the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City. On December 31, 1879, Edison made the first public demonstration of his incandescent light bulb in Menlo Park. He was quoted as saying, "We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles."In conjunction with his incandescent lightbulb, in 1880 Edison patented a system for electricity distribution. On December 17, 1880, he founded the Edison Illuminating Company at Pearl Street Station, New York City. The company was the first investor-owned electric utility. The generating station's electrical power distribution system provided 110 volts direct current (DC) to 59 customers in lower Manhattan. By 1889, Edison owned several companies, which he brought together to form one umbrella company- Edison General Electric Company. The merger with Thomson -Houston Company in 1892 created the now famous General Electric Company.Just as Edison was expanding his direct current (DC) power delivery system, a new type of delivery system emerged- Alternating Current (AC), under the work and invention of Nikola Tesla. When transformers were developed in 1885-1886 it became possible to transmit AC longer distances over thinner and cheaper wires, and use less voltage, allowing for a greater range of lighting options. Edison's DC service was only suitable for the high density of customers found in large cities. If you were more than a mile (2 km) from the plant, you did not have access to the electricity, leaving a patchwork of un-supplied customers in-between plants. Small cities and rural areas could not afford the Edison AC, so the DC providers came in to fill the gap.

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