The Inventions of Thomas Edison for Kids

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There is much to learn about Thomas Alva Edison, who was born February 11, 1847. He was a great inventor who loved to experiment and discover how things worked. The three inventions considered Edison's greatest are the electric light system, the phonograph, and a motion picture machine that was a forerunner of the movie camera. Today, his inventions have been updated by others to a variety of light bulbs, CD players for music, and the video camera.

The Phonograph

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph back in 1877. This is the very first machine that could record a person’s voice and play it back. Edison recited the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on a tin cylinder that captured the recording. With a needle running through the grooves as it turned, this early recording device played back Edison's voice. Before the phonograph was invented, people only had entertainment by live musicians and actors. This invention allowed people to have music anytime.

The First Motion Picture Machine

Edison invented the “kinetoscope,” which was a box that contained strips of pictures. When the person looked through a hole, the pictures were pulled through, with the result that it looked as if the pictures were moving. People came to see his motion picture machine in New York City, where they paid a nickel to see the first short movie in 1894.

A Simple Light Bulb

Thomas Edison opened the Edison Electric Light Company in 1878. He invented a carbon filament lamp and worked on improving the incandescent light bulb. This light bulb burned for more than 13 hours and was marketed for home use. His helpers, who worked with Edison at the light company, spent time on developing other inventions with him that helped the electric systems work, such as:

  • switches
  • fuses
  • wires

Other Projects by Edison

Thomas Edison was a very busy man who worked on projects that he could sell to improve people's lives. He invented improvements to the stock ticker and revised the telegraph machine in the late 1800s. He helped to better the telephone that was originally invented by Alexander Graham Bell. In the 1900s, Edison began to work on automobiles and refiined batteries for electric cars. These batteries were also used in mines and on the railroad.

Edison National Historic Site

In 1963, Thomas Edison's home and laboratory were combined into a National Park Historic Site, located in West Orange, New Jersey. It is a tourist attraction today, where you can visit and learn about the history behind each of Edison's inventions. Celebrate Edison Day on June 4th with a visit to this famous place.


About the Author

Tania K. Cowling is a former teacher, a published book author and award-winning freelance writer. Cowling is also certified in medical records technology. She has published many articles online and in regional magazines across the country.

Photo Credits

  • Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images