Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 1973 (sole charter inductee).
Made several experimental short films, some lasting only several seconds, mostly to test his equipment. One film--Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (1894)--which features a man sneezing, runs for 1-1/2 seconds.
When he lay dying at his home in New Jersey, newspaper reporters were anxiously awaiting a sign from his wife of his death. She signaled Edison's passing by turing a light ON, not off, in his bedroom.
Using a primative cylinder and foil device, he created the first known recording of a human voice (his own, reciting the poem "Mary Had A Little Lamb").
Reportedly drank "wine coca" (a medicinal tonic made from coca leaves, the same type of coca that cocaine is extracted from) during marathon research sessions that ran into the night.
Enjoyed communication with Morse Code so much that he proposed marriage to his girlfriend in it, and nicknamed his children "Dot" and "Dash".
Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla (credited with the practical development of alternating current) briefly worked for Edison as a technician. He quit after arguing with Edison one too many times.
In his later years, he often committed social faux pas by making racist and anti-Semitic comments before the press.
While his partial deafness was the subject of a great deal of speculation and mythology, it is generally assumed that it was caused by a childhood bout of scarlet fever.
Is venerated by a sect of the Shinto faith as "the god of electrcity".
Many of his experimental films were made in a small wooden building dubbed "The Black Maria" (spelled Maria but pronounced "Mariah") because it resembled a police wagon of the same name. Edison's Black Maria was built on a lot next to his lab and office. The building, essentially a large wooden shed covered with tar paper, was small enough that it was mounted on circular tracks so it could be turned to accommodate sunlight through an opening in the roof. The original has long since burned down, but a reproduction of the structure is located at the Edison National Historic Site (a museum with a preserved laboratory facility) in West Orange, New Jersey.
Is credited with the invention of sprocketed cinema film.
Close friend of Henry Ford.
Other inventions to his credit include celophane tape, waxed paper, an improved version of the typewriter keyboard, and "the electric pencil", a forerunner to today's fax machine.
Rarely if ever slept a normal eight-hour period. He preferred to take "cat naps" throughout the day, and kept cots in his office and lab.
He is often credited with the invention of the incandescent light bulb, but that is untrue; he only perfected it. Similar bulbs were already in existence but they were expensive, did not last long and gave off a bad smell. By developing a low-cost, long-lasting, carbonized cotton filament, Edison made electrical light cheap enough to be financially practical.
Pictured on a 3¢ US postage stamp in the Famous Americans/Inventors series, issued 11 February 1947 (centennial year of his birth).
The last years of his life were plagued by financial failures, including plans to make houses out of poured formed concrete (it never caught on with the public) and making rubber from goldenrod (it decomposed too quickly).
Depicted on the obverse of a USA $1 commemorative silver coin issued in 2004, celebrating the 125th anniversary of the light bulb.
Awarded a Congressional Gold Medal, 29 May 1928 (45 Stat. 1012).
He played virtually no role in the production of individual films by the movie company that bore his name.
Father of Charles Edison.
His company was considerably late in getting involved in the recorded music business. While he did invent the phonograph, his intention was to market it as a business dictation machine. The concept of recorded music never crossed his mind.
Edison's son allegedly captured his last breath in a glass jar. The jar is on display at the reconstructed Menlo Park at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.
Despite his company producing one of the earliest advertisements for cigarettes (Admiral Cigarettes), Edison became an ardent anti-smoking advocate; going so far as to say that he would not hire anyone who smoked.
Invented the cylinder recorder (phonograph) but it was Emile Berliner who created the flat disc; Edison licensed the patent(s) from him.
Invented the Kinetograph camera and the peephole kinetoscope viewer. The Edison Manufacturing Company's (really a very early "studio") earliest films were produced solely to demonstrate the use of the peephole viewer.
His father, Samuel Edison, was of Dutch ancestry and his mother, Nancy Elliot, was of English decent.
He was member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS)
Elected to the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2007 for his services to technology (inaugural election). Official induction ceremonies held in May 2008.
His attempts to force independent filmmakers to use his patented movie equipment resulted in an exodus of the film industry from the East Coast, where almost all films were produced, to California and a little town called Hollywoodland, now known as Hollywood.
By 1876, he had amassed $40,000 through the sale of various telegraphic devices.
In association with two business partners, he invented a new type of printing telegraph called a "gold printer" that he sold to Western Union for $15,000.
His second patent, an improved stock indicator machine, was sold to Western Union for $40,000.
In 1931, when he died, his estate was estimated at well over $12 million. His estate included shares of Thomas A. Edison, Inc. valued at more than $10 million, $1,342,000 in United States bonds, $48,000 in railroad bonds, $48,000 in cash, and 76,000 shares in 37 different companies that no longer exist.
Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1969.
Founded Edison Records (1898-1929).
Inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 (inaugural class).
Inducted into the IP (Intellectual Property) Hall of Fame in 2006 (inaugural class).
Inducted into the International Lineman Hall of Fame in 2006 (inaugural class).
Co-founder, with George Kleine, of K-E-S-E Service, a film distribution company, in 1916. It went out of business in 1927.
Inducted into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
Inducted into the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame in 2011 (inaugural class).
Founded Conquest Picture Company, a film production company active from 1917-18.
Founded Edison Manufacturing Co., a film production/distribution company. NOTE: Although he founded the company, he was not a "hands-on" producer and had little if anything to do with the actual production of the films the company made.
The film industry found itself centered in Los Angeles in part because of Thomas Edison. Edison formed the Motion Picture Patent Company (MPPC), and teamed up with a few other prominent figures in film production, giving them a sort of monopoly on filmmaking. They wouldn't let other filmmakers use their technology, and they controlled the different steps of production. Supposedly, they even hired goons to enforce their monopoly. As a result, filmmakers relocated as far away as possible from Edison's base in New Jersey. As a benefit, L.A. also turned out to have cheap land and weather that made uninterrupted filming easier.
Invented the phonograph, the incandescent electric light bulb, the alkaline storage battery among other things. He held more than 900 patents and laid the foundation for the modern electric age.