August 12 ~  Dressed In Overalls Edison: A Life of Invention

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." ~ Thomas A. Edison

Thomas Edison

A hard worker who kept creating opportunities, inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) was born in Milan, Ohio. Nearly deaf, the remarkable Edison could not hear in his left ear and had about 10% hearing in his right.

That didn't stop him. At the mere age of 10, he set up a laboratory in his basement to conduct experiments. "A diamond is a piece of coal that stuck to the job," he once said and believed his deafness helped his creativity.

In 1877, Edison invented the original cylinder phonograph quite by accident. While trying to record telegraph messages, he experimented by moving paraffin-coated paper tape at high speed through a receiving instrument. A needle embossed the tape with dots and dashes of the incoming message. On one trial run, the tape sped through and made a sound similar to human speech.

That got his attention.

Always curious, he wondered what would happen if he connected a telephone diaphragm to the needle. He designed a cylinder covered in tinfoil, with a crank that turned the needle around the cylinder. To operate, he turned the crank while speaking, then moved the needle over the cylinder to play back the recording.

Edison recited Mary Had A Little Lamb and his voice was almost perfectly reproduced.

Just one of his 1,093 patents. Not bad for a man with only three months of formal schooling...

More EDISON Quotations

Roll up your sleeves and dig in.