Ted Arnn

Wow! Our team at Falconer Electronics was recently blessed with an amazing opportunity. Ted Arnn, a great-nephew of Thomas Edison and his wife Mina Miller Edison, provided us with an outstanding interview.

We were absolutely thrilled with this opportunity. Ted Arnn is kind, gracious, humble and funny. Also, he shared numerous fascinating stories on the Edison Family from a first-hand perspective.

Learning about a historic figure and entrepreneurial legend like Thomas Edison from a living relative was certainly informational, educational and most of all extremely exciting. In fact, Ted Arnn shares bloodlines with a list of hugely successful individuals.

For example, his great-grandfather, Lewis Miller was a 19th-century inventor and industrialist who also founded Chautauqua Institution.

In addition, the women of the Miller family also went on to find great success. Therefore, our discussion primarily focused on Ted Arnn’s aunt, the incredible Mina Miller Edison.

The Edison Family & Chautauqua Institution Connection 

This post continues our blog series on the Thomas and Mina Edison family as well as their connection to a local landmark Chautauqua Institution.

Our path started by connecting with the team at the Chautauqua Institution Archives. From there, Chautauqua Institution archivist, Jonathan Schmitz recommended reaching out the great-nephew of Thomas and Mina Edison, Ted Arnn.

Ted Arnn immediately replied to our request for an interview and graciously accepted. Furthermore, Ted Arnn far exceeded our expectations with thorough answers, hysterical stories and the generosity of his time.

Below we share pieces of that interview. Enjoy!

Interview with Ted Arnn

Ted Arnn

Question 1: What was your mother’s relationship with Mina?

Answer: Ted shared how his mother Nancy Miller Arnn was extremely close to her aunt Mina Miller Edison. Nancy lost both of her parents before the age of 18. Nancy then moved in with Mina at the Edison home in West Orange, New Jersey. After Thomas Edison died in 1931, Mina brought Nancy to Chautauqua Institution for the summer. As a result, Nancy ended up spending nearly every summer at Chautauqua Institution with Mina.


Question 2: What do you think was Mina’s Proudest achievement?

Answer: Mina accomplished plenty in her lifetime. The Bird, Tree & Garden Club at Chautauqua was what Mina was most proud of. Mina was very interested in nature and birds.


Question 3: Do you have any stories or do you know any characteristics of Mina’s Parents, Lewis, and Valinda Miller?

Answer: Lewis was a successful inventor of agriculture and farming machinery. For example, Lewis Miller  invented the Buckeye mower which allowed increased safety and efficiency for farmers.

Also, after Lewis died, Valinda and a couple daughters opened a finishing school in their home. They also invested in a company that eventually became Quaker Oats and made them a million dollars in the process. So needless to say, entrepreneurship ran deep with the highly ambitious women of the Miller family.

Question 4: What do you believe would be some of the accomplishments Mina would achieve if she were alive today?

Answer: Ted responded that Mina “certainly wouldn’t be sitting around on the porch sipping tea, that’s for sure.” She would be heavily engaged in pursuing her passions.

Another excellent example of Mina’s relentless determination occurred during the 1930’s. Chautauqua Institution severely suffered financially during the Great Depression and Mina decided to take action. As a result, Mina put up the funds by purchasing bonds to prevent the Hotel Antheneum from falling into receivership. This relentless determination of Mina reflects as Thomas Edison said, “If there is a way to do it better, find it”.

Question 5: What characteristics of Mina should young women entering college or their careers know about Mina that would be helpful?

Answer:  Our takeaway from this question to Ted:

  • Take advantage of every opportunity
  • Get Involved
  • Follow Your Passion
  • Break Barriers

For example, Mina was an extremely positive role model for Ted Arnn’s mother Nancy Miller Arnn. Nancy earned her degree in three years from Radcliffe University (now part of Harvard University). Furthermore, she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Question 6: Was it emotional for you and your sister Kim to sell the Miller Cottage?

Answer: No, because it went to a great owner. It is almost 100% all back to how it was when Mina was there.

Question 7: Do you still spend summers at Chautauqua Institution?

Answer: “Yes. I continue to spend every summer at Chautauqua Institution.”

Question 8: What brings you back every year? What do you look forward to the most?

Answer: Ted shared all of the many tremendous opportunities that Chautauqua Institution offers every summer. The lectures. The culture. Theater performances. The Playhouse. Religious services.

Most of all Ted cherishes the strong friendships. “All of the amazing relationships that I have built over the years from a child at Chautauqua all the way through adulthood.” He shared these wonderful relationships go back to the days of being a sailing counselor where he gained numerous friendships built with individuals from all over the world.

Question 9: How do you handle the role as a descendant of the founder of Chautauqua Institution? 

Answer: “Extremely humbling.” Ted also shared that it is a responsibility that he strives to live up to.

Question 10: As a relative of Mina, what would you like for someone to know about her legacy?

Answer: Ted explained that Mina was extremely organized. She married Thomas Edison at the young age of 20. Upon marrying Thomas Edison, she immediately took on the role of a mother of Edison’s three children. The oldest only 8 years younger than Mina herself. Mina became the “home executive” of the Edison estate. She managed six staff members that took care of the Edison home.

In addition, he was not a pushover.  Mina grew up in an extremely wealthy home. Her father, industrialist Lewis Miller created a vast fortune as an inventor and entrepreneur. Due to growing up with a famous father, the fame of Thomas Edison did not faze her. Furthermore, she embraced Edison’s fame and made herself part of his business.

In conclusion, we extend a HUGE thank you to Ted Arnn for taking the time out of his busy schedule to share these fun stories with us. We wish Ted continued success.

To learn more about Thomas Edison, check out the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Lastly, thank you for reading our Interview with Ted Arnn. As a U.S. manufacturer of electrical products since 1985, gaining a deeper understanding of the great entrepreneur Thomas Edison and his wonderful wife Mina Miller Edison was thrilling for our team.

Falconer Electronics proudly serves as a U.S. manufacturer of Wire Harnesses, Ground Straps and Commercial Power Strips.


Are you deeply passionate about electronics? Do you love history as well? If so, you need to check out the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University (click here).

The Edison Papers at Rutgers University serves as an extremely ambitious project dedicated to the man credited with 1093 patents during his lifetime from 1847 to 1931.

Thomas Edison changed history with his relentless drive to make the world a better place with his amazing inventions and new product development.

However, Thomas Edison played many roles in his illustrious life. The list includes not only inventor and entrepreneur but also a loving husband and father. Above all, Thomas Edison represents massive success.

Furthermore, the incredible legacy of Thomas Edison continues on today with great thanks to the dynamic team at Rutgers University.Edison Papers

Rutgers University Professor Thomas Jeffrey, Senior Editor Emeritus Edison Papers 

This post continues our blog series on the Thomas and Mina Edison family. Hence, during our research on Thomas Edison, we discovered a local connection with the Edison family and Chautauqua Institution.

First, we began our research by contacting Chautauqua Institution. Chautauqua Institution Archivist Jonathan Schmitz then connected our team with Dr. Thomas Jeffrey, Professor at Rutgers University and Senior Editor Emeritus of the Edison Papers.

Consequently, Dr. Thomas Jeffrey recently blessed our company with the opportunity to interview him in person. Click here to hear sections of that interview

In addition, our conversation with both Jonathan Schmitz and Dr. Thomas Jeffrey led to a deep interest to continue exploring the Edison Papers.

As a result, it was exciting to see all of the pieces on the Edison Papers website from the Oliver Archives Center at Chautauqua Institution. Especially since Jonathan Schmitz allowed us to go through many of the same documents.

Click the link below to learn how the Edison Papers team made the Edison-Miller connection to Chautauqua Institution:

Miller Family Papers to add Chautauqua chapter to Edison project

Creating The Edison Effect Through Course Development

Below includes a video with Dr. Paul Israel, Director and also General Editor of the Edison Papers:

Below includes a link to another video with an interview with Dr. Paul Israel on PBS:

The Mission of the Edison Papers Project

Due to the deep dedication and commitment from the team at Rutgers University, their website is loaded with a wealth of information. In particular check out the  Digital Edition of the Edison Papers.

Therefore, it certainly seems like any piece of information imaginable regarding Thomas Edison resides on the Edison Papers website.

For example, according to the Rutgers University website the mission of the project states:

One of the most challenging, versatile, and collaborative projects ever anchored by humanities scholarship, the Thomas A. Edison Papers is a unique resource for understanding the unbounded themes, variations, and processes of invention and innovation because it combines the major research capabilities of Rutgers University with a team of diversely interested specialists.

A major goal of the Edison Papers is to produce a selective fifteen-volume book edition of transcribed and annotated documents. The book volumes provide not only an overview of Edison’s life and career but also significant resources for understanding the development of electrical and other technology, as well as the emergence of new technology industries.

The Edison Papers was established under a Board of Oversight which consists of Rutgers, the State University of New Jerseythe National Park Servicethe New Jersey Historical Commission, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Finally, let’s take a tour of the Edison Papers and explore the tremendous amount of information the team at Rutgers organized:

Edison Personal Artifacts 

The Edison Papers offers literally thousands of documents organized by the categories below:

Thomas Edison Business Related Documents 

Additionally, you can browse through thousands of documents on Thomas Edison’s business dealings:

Thomas Edison Inventions 

Above all, for aspiring inventors, you can also browse by inventions of Thomas Edison:

In conclusion, if you are looking for a blueprint on building game changing inventions and seeking entrepreneurial success, dedicate some time browsing the Edison Papers. You will learn tons.

Most importantly, please take a moment to thank the team at Rutgers University for all of the hard work over the years. Job well done Scarlet Knights!

Let’s Connect

Falconer Electronics serves as a U.S. manufacturer of Commercial Power Strips, Ground Straps and also  Wire Harnesses dating back to 1985.

Also, click on these links to learn more about our Wire Harness Estimator and our new Ground Strap Express!

Lastly, please connect with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Several months ago we decided to blog about the greatest inventor and entrepreneur in electronics, Thomas Edison. At that time, little did we know where this path would lead us. As a result, we were blessed to interview Professor Thomas Jeffrey, Senior Editor Emeritus of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Professor Thomas Jeffrey was extremely gracious and open to granting an interview on Thomas Edison. A subject that he has researched extensively for almost 40 years. For more information, click here to check out a recent blog that includes a quick bio and introduces Professor Thomas Jeffrey.Professor Thomas Jeffrey

Thomas Edison Connection to Chautauqua Institution

As we started our blog series on the Edison Family, we discovered a local connection with Thomas Edison and his amazing wife Mina Miller Edison to Chautauqua Institution. While connecting with the Chautauqua Institution Archives, our research led us to the Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Click the link below to learn how the Edison Papers team made the Edison-Miller connection to Chautauqua Institution:

Miller Family Papers to add Chautauqua chapter to Edison Project

Mina Miller Edison’s father, Lewis Miller, co-founded Chautauqua Institution during the summer of 1874. Fast forward 144 years later, Chautauqua Institution continues to thrive delivering an amazing lineup every summer season. Chautauqua Institution welcomes over 100,000 visitors each summer who explore spirituality, philosophy, cultural vitality and the arts. In addition, click here to learn more.

As a college senior as well as working as a social media intern, learning about the incredible life of Mina Miller Edison led to a great deal of inspiration and an eagerness to explore deeper.

As a result, we learned Mina strongly valued education. Therefore after graduating from Akron High School, Mina continued her education at the Miss Abby H. Johnson’s Home & Day School for Young Ladies in Boston.

My Interview with Professor Thomas Jeffrey

This interview was made possible thanks to Jonathan Schmitz, archivist of Chautauqua Institution. Jonathan provided this outstanding connection to Professor Thomas Jeffrey due to our interest to learn more about Mina Miller Edison..

Ready for this exciting interview with Professor Thomas Jeffrey. Here we go:

Question 1: Did Mina have a good relationship with her family?

Answer: Yes, she wrote a lot to her sister Grace as she grew up. She also wrote to her mother and father as well. They had a strong relationship which helped Mina grow into an amazing woman.

As a result of the Edison papers, you can see these interactions at these links at Rutgers University:

Also here is a clip from my interview talking about her family life:

Question 2: Do you think Mina’s Father’s success helped her want to achieve as well?

Answer: Yes. She wanted to be more than just a housewife, she wanted to be a businesswoman as well.

Also here is a clip from my interview talking about this question:

Question 3: Do you think Mina being such a big part of Edison’s business made her kids want to achieve like their mother?

Answer: Yes, This is especially true when it came to seeing a difference between Mina’s stepchildren and her own children.

Also here is a clip from my interview on this question:

Question 4: Did Mina want one of her children to take over Thomas Edison’s business?

Answer: Yes, she wanted Charles to take over the business. She wanted the business to stay in the family.

Also here is a clip from my interview on this topic:

Question 5: How did Mina feel about Thomas spending time in his lab?

Answer: She didn’t like him spending to much time in his lab. She wanted him present to be part of their family.

Finally, Here is a clip from my interview about a time where Mina had to go get Thomas from his lab.


Connect with Us

Thank you for reading this post. Our blog series on the Edison Family continues with our next post on the Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

Another upcoming post on the Edison Family includes our exciting interview with Ted Arnn, the great-nephew to Thomas and Mina Edison.

Also to learn more about Falconer Electronics, you can check out information on our American Made Ground Straps and Wire Harnesses.

In addition, click these links to learn more about our Wire Harness Estimator and our new Ground Strap Express!

Finally, please connect with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey, Professor at Rutgers University, recently granted Falconer Electronics an incredible opportunity with a one-on-one interview. Professor Thomas Jeffrey also serves as Senior Editor Emeritus of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

This interview was made possible thanks to Jonathan Schmitz, archivist of Chautauqua Institution. Jonathan provided this excellent connection due to our interest to learn more about Mina Miller Edison, wife of Thomas Edison.

Connecting with Dr. Thomas Jeffrey was a thrill and tremendous honor. Especially since Dr. Jeffrey took time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts, knowledge and expertise on the Edison Family.

In addition, click the link below to learn how the Edison Papers team made the Edison-Miller connection to Chautauqua Institution:

Miller Family Papers to add Chautauqua chapter to Edison project

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey & The Edison Papers

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey earned his Doctorate in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America in 1974.

Following his doctorate, Dr. Jeffrey took on the role as Senior Editor of the Edison Project Papers at Rutgers University where he served from 1979 through 2017.

The Thomas A. Edison Papers Project at Rutgers University explored 5 million pages of documents that chronicled the amazing life and achievements of Thomas Edison as well as his family.

This decade’s long project ranks as one of the most ambitious projects taken on by an American university. The team of scholars including Dr. Thomas Jeffrey turned this wealth of previously hidden information into a premier educational resource. The Edison Project team made “Edison accessible – and comprehensible – to the countless number of young and lifetime learners”.

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey on Thomas Edison

Consequently, Dr. Thomas Jeffrey authored the book “From Phonographs to U-Boats: Edison and His “Insomnia Squad” in Peace and War, 1911-1919.”

In this book, Dr. Jeffrey reveals Edison’s deep involvement towards the war effort during World War I. However, this period of Thomas Edison’s life received little attention prior to Dr. Jeffrey’s book.

Furthermore, this book serves as a guide to Part V of the microfilm edition of the Rutgers University Thomas A. Edison Papers:

Thomas Jeffrey

From Phonographs to U-Boats: Edison and His “Insomnia Squad” in Peace and War, 1911-1919 by Thomas E. Jeffrey is the guide to Part V of the microfilm edition of the Thomas A. Edison Papers. An important work of scholarship in its own right, this groundbreaking book probes an important period in Edison’s life that has received little attention in previous scholarly works. This book reveals a great deal about the inventor’s personality and methods and shows his deep personal involvement in the war effort. From Phonographs to U-Boats also includes two extended essays on how the war affected Edison’s experimental work, business enterprises, and family.

Interview with Professor Thomas Jeffrey

Lastly, please check out our next blog to learn more about the Edison Papers followed by a post to hear clips of my interview with Dr. Thomas Jeffrey. He is a world class expert on the life of Thomas Edison and his family. Above all, Dr. Thomas Jeffrey is a humble, funny and gracious man. It was a true privilege to interview him and I am excited to share my experience with you.

Let’s Connect 

For more information on Falconer Electronics, check out our American Made Commercial Power StripsGround Straps and Wire Harnesses.

Also, click on these links to learn more about our Wire Harness Estimator and our new Ground Strap Express!

Lastly, please connect with us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.


Why Thomas Edison Quotes

The Thomas Edison Legacy stands as not only one of the greatest inventors in history but also a brilliant entrepreneur. As such there are so many Thomas Edison quotes that still apply to today’s society. Being an electronics manufacturer, Thomas Edison holds a special place in our hearts here at Falconer Electronics.

Below we have compiled our  Favorite Thomas Edison Quotes into helpful categories: Success, Failure, Hard Work, Learning, and Friendship. All of which everyone can relate to. Whether you are in your dream job or looking for advancement there is an Edison quote that will encourage you to keep looking forward. Also, Edison often encouraged the idea of never giving up. Especially when things are not going how you planned.

Thomas Edison Quotes

Thomas Edison Quotes on Success

  • The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.
  • Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
  • To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
  • Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.
  • There’s a way to do it better – find it.
  • Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.
  • Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.
  • One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But… I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.
  • Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.
  • When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting I go ahead of it and make trial after trial until it comes.

Failure Quotes

  • Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.
  • I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
  • Never get discouraged if you fail. Learn from it. Keep trying.
  • Waste is worse than loss. The time is coming when every person who lays claim to ability will keep the question of waste before him constantly. The scope of thrift is limitless.
  • Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.
  • Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
  • Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.
  • I start where the last man left off.

Thomas Edison Quotes on Hard Work

  • There is no substitute for hard work.
  • If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.
  • What you are will show in what you do.
  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
  • If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.
  • What you are will show in what you do.
  • I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.
  • Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.
  • Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.
  • I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.
  • Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.
  • Be courageous. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has emerged from these stronger and more prosperous. Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward!
  • There is far more opportunity than there is ability.

Quotes About Learning

  • Learn with both your head and hands.
  • Not everything of value in life comes from books- experience the world.
  • Never stop learning. Read the entire panorama of literature.
  • Maturity is often more absurd than youth and very frequently is most unjust to youth.
  • Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
  • The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.
  • The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.
  • To have a great idea, have a lot of them.
  • The value of an idea lies in the using of it.
  • Great ideas originate in the muscles.

Friendship Quotes

  • I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.
  • There will one day spring from the brain of science a machine or force so fearful in its potentialities, so absolutely terrifying, that even man, the fighter, who will dare torture and death in order to inflict torture and death, will be appalled, and so abandon war forever.

Contact Us

Want to learn more about Thomas Edison? You can look at our other blogs! Facts You May Not Know About the Thomas Edison FamilyInventions of Thomas Edison: Successes and Failures, and The History of Thomas Edison’s Life.

Also, do you know about Mina Miller Edison? She was Thomas’ wife. You can check out our blogs on her achievements: Mina Miller Edison’s Family LifeMina Miller Edison: Much More Than Just Thomas Edison’s Wife, and Happy 153rd Birthday Mina Miller Edison: July 6, 1865.

Also, to learn more about Falconer Electronics, please click here.

Want to read some of our favorite past blogs? Start here.

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The Thomas & Mina Miller Edison Family 

Continuing our blog series on Mina Miller Edison, we take a deep look into her family life. In particular, the six children that she raised with her husband, Thomas Edison

The family of Mina Miller Edison started when she married Thomas Edison on February 24, 1886. Mina assumed the responsibility for managing two large homes, each well staffed with servants. After two years of marriage, Madeleine was born in 1888. Next came Charles in 1890, and Theodore Miller in 1898.

Madeleine Edison

Mina Miller Edison holding Madeleine Edison as a baby, starting a familyMadeleine was born on May 31st, 1888, the first child born to Mina. She was born in Glenmont, the Edison Family home in New Jersey. She attended BrynMawrCollege in Pennsylvania for two years. Madeleine married John Eyre Sloane. She married him in the Drawing Room at Glenmont on June 17, 1914. Her parents were not the happiest about this marriage being he was an aviator. Madeleine and John had four sons, who happened to be Thomas Edison’s only grandchildren from either marriage.Madeleine's family picture

Madeleine briefly ran for Congress in 1938, she sadly lost. During World War II she gave much of her time to blood drives. This being for the New Jersey Red Cross. She also administered the Edison Birthplace in Milan, Ohio after her mother’s death. In the 1950s Madeleine served on the Board of Directors for Western Union. She died on February 14, 1979.


Charles Edison

Family fishing trip fishingCharles Edison was born into the Edison Family at the Glenmont on August 3, 1890. Charles graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He married Carolyn Hawkins, whom he had met in 1912 then married on March 27, 1918. Finally, he became president of his father’s company, Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated, in 1927. He ran the company until it was sold in 1959.

Charles is the best known because of his second career, in public service. In the mid-1930s he served in the cabinet of President Franklin Roosevelt.  First as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, then as Acting Secretary. New Jersey voters elected him as their governor in 1940. Charles however, broke a family tradition in the process running as a Democrat. He also founded a charitable foundation that now bears his name, the Charles Edison Fund. He died on July 31, 1969


Theodore Miller Edison

Thomas and Theodore Edison working in the family labTheodore Miller Edison was the last to be born at Glenmont on July 10, 1898. Thomas Edison was 51 when his final son was born. Charles is named after a beloved brother of Mina. He had just died in the Spanish-American War. Theodore first attended the Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and then Montclair Academy in Montclair, New Jersey. Finally, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he earned his physics degree in 1923. He was the only member of the Edison family to graduate from college.Theodore miller edison family picture

Theodore did work for his father’s company after graduation. After starting as an ordinary lab assistant, he worked his way up to technical director of research and engineering for Thomas A. Edison, Inc. He eventually founded his own company, Calibron Industries, Inc. Also, he built his own smaller laboratory in West Orange. Charles earned over 80 patents in his career. In 1925 he married Anna Maria Osterhout, a graduate of Vassar. He became an ardent environmentalist. He was an opponent of the Vietnam War and advocate of Zero Population Growth. He lived in West Orange with his wife Anna until his death on November 24, 1992.

Mina’s Step-Children 

With the marriage between Thomas and Mina, she took on his three children from the first marriage. Marion, twelve years old, Thomas, Jr. ten years old, and William Leslie eight years old. As a result, they became part of her family to raise.

Marion Estelle Edison

child marion family pictureMarion was the first born of Thomas Edison’s children. She was born on February 18, 1873, and gained the nickname “Dot” as a child after Morse Code.  Marion went to Somerville Seminary in Somerville, New Jersey. She also attended Bradford Academy in Bradford, Massachusetts. In 1895 she married Karl Oscar Oeser, a German army lieutenant.  They lived in Germany through the First World War.  Unfortunately, her marriage ended in divorce in 1921. Finally, she then returned to the United States, where she died on April 16, 1965.

Thomas Alva Edison Jr

Young Thomas Jr Family picture Teenage Thomas Jr Family PictureThomas Alva, Junior, was born on January 10, 1876. He was nicknamed “Dash” after Morse Code like his sister He went to St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. Then moved on to J.M.Hawkins School in Staten Island, New York. He went on to marry stage actress Marie Louise Toohey in 1899. However, the marriage ended within a year. He next married Beatrice Heyzer. Thomas Jr sold the use of his name to advertise “quack” medicines and dubious inventions. His father disapproved of this and eventually asked him to change his name. Thomas Jr. briefly went by the name of Thomas Willard. His efforts at inventing and starting a mushroom farm failed. He died on August 25, 1935

William Leslie Edison

William Leslie was born on October 26, 1878. He went to school at St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire. Then also attended J.M.Hawkins School on Staten Island. He later studied at the Sheffield scientific school at Yale. William soon married Blanche Travers. William Edison served in the military during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He also served again in the First World War. Like his brother he turned to farm life, breeding chickens. He died on August 10, 1937.


For more information on Thomas Edison’s Family life check out these pages!

Thanks so much for reading this post on Mina Miller Edison. To learn more about Mina Miller Edison check out last week’s blog.

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Mina Miller Edison

Mina Miller Edison

A Force is Born

On July 6, 1865, Mina Miller was born into a family of eight. As the Miller family continued to grow, Mina was the seventh of eleven children born to inventor Lewis Miller and Mary Alexander. Her parents had a love for education.  Mina attended and graduated from Akron High School in Ohio. After high school, she went on to study at a home and day school in Boston.

Mina Miller and her family

Mina Miller’s Family

As we discussed in a previous blog, Mina married Thomas Edison in 1886 at the age of 20. Thomas Edison, a widow at the time, was smitten with her beauty upon meeting her. Let’s take a deeper look into the amazing life of Mina Miller Edison.

Mina’s Father the Inventor and Founder

Mina was born into a family that was used to being in the spotlight. Lewis Miller was a successful inventor. He also became one of the founders of Chautauqua Institution. The Miller family spent summers in their home along Chautauqua Lake. Her families love for Chautauqua was passed down to Mina. Therefore, when she had a family of her own she brought them to her family home in the institute.

Mina’s father and husband both had a passion for inventing. However, what they chose to invent was different from one another. While Thomas concentrated on technology and electronics, Lewis focused on farm equipment. They shared the common goal of making life easier with their inventions.

Lewis was also a religious man. His faith was a large influence in his founding of Chautauqua Institution. Therefore, the institute was founded as a Christian camp. Lewis and Reverend John Heyl Vincent thought Chautauqua would be the perfect religious retreat. However, over time the institute opened its doors to all religions and entertainment.

Lewis Miller, Mina Miller's Father

Lewis Miller, Mina Miller’s Father

Mary Valinda Miller

Mary Valinda Miller, Mina Miller’s Mother

The Multiple Achievements of Mina Miller

Managing a Home Full of Staff and Children

When Mina and Thomas Edison got married she was much younger then he was. She was about half his age. Also, in the blink of an eye, she became the stepmother to his three children. Still being young herself she was not fully prepared for motherhood. However, Mina took charge of the household.

Often times Thomas was not around due to his work. This left Mina in charge of hiring the house staff as well as raising the children. Furthermore, she gave herself the title of “home executive”. Mina also held ownership of Glenmont. The home she shared with Thomas. Owning and managing her own home was the first of many successes for Mina.

Children of Her Own

Two years after their marriage Mina and Thomas added to their family with their first child, Madeleine. This started the same pattern of children Thomas had with his first wife. Their daughter was soon followed by two sons, Charles and Theodore. These additions to their family added more challenges for Mina.

She continued to struggle with her relationship with her stepdaughter. Also, as the three eldest Edison children grew their relationships with their parents did not. Mina’s stepchildren did not take education as seriously as she did. They also believed that Edison’s fame could make their futures for them. Due to this belief, Mina’s stepchildren went on to live mediocre lives. Meanwhile, her own children thrived with their education and achieved their goals of being successful.

Volunteering in West Orange

Mina Miller Edison was not one to sit idly by while her husband worked day and night. Therefore, she filled her time with running the household and helping Thomas with his business. Mina also enjoyed working with organizations and causes.

Mina was very involved with the West Orange Community. She was an influential part of organizing the West Orange Community League. A program which provides recreation and other cultural needs. Mina’s work lives on in the league. It is still serving West Orange today. Also, during The Great Depression Mina single-handedly began a study. This study was on the effects unemployment was having on local hospitals and other affiliated organizations. It was important for the community to see how they were being affected by the heightening rates.

Chautauqua Institute and Mina’s Influence

Mina’s father’s love for Chautauqua was passed down to his daughter. Along with being a resident every summer, Mina dedicated herself to many organizations locally. She specifically had a love for birds. She also supported land and wildlife conservation. Often times Mina would donate her own funds to projects for Chautauqua.

Mina became a trustee of the institute. Her passion for the area did not go unnoticed. Therefore, others involved in Chautauqua held Mina in high regards. Much like her father, Mina continued her involvement with her beloved Institute until her passing in 1947.

The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation

After Thomas Edison passed away, Mina started The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation in his memory.  The foundation combined both Thomas’s and Mina’s passions. Mina’s love for education and Thomas’s love for science. However, later on, the nature of the foundation changed. It was no longer dedicated to advancements in science and education. It became a foundation aimed at preserving Thomas Edison’s name and accomplishments.

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Want to learn more about Thomas Edison? Check out our blogs

Keep an eye out for our future blogs on Mina Miller Edison.

Helpful Sites

Do you want to learn more about Mina Miller Edison? Check out the page Edison Muckers.

Museums are great places to find information. Check out the Edison Museum.

Go to this page to learn more on Mina’s Parents.

Also, did you know that you can visit some very famous graves? Check out the site Find a Grave for more information.

Want to visit the place Mina loved so much? Make a reservation at Chautauqua Institute today! You can check out their full summer calendar here.



On this day, 153 years ago, July 6, 1865, an amazing woman was born: Mina Miller Edison. Mina was a positive force which she demonstrated with her many incredible achievements. Especially as the wife of Thomas Edison, a wonderful mother and her involvement in numerous community projects.

Mina Miller Edison

Mina Miller Edison & Chautauqua Institution

Our team excitedly decided to create a blog series on Thomas Edison. Being an electronics manufacturer (Wire Harness Manufacturing and Ground Straps) for over 30 years plus being history buffs, a blog series on Thomas Edison sounded educational and fun. 

While conducting research on Thomas Edison, we discovered that Thomas Edison and his wife Mina Miller Edison also share deep roots in our local community, Chautauqua County.

Mina was not only the wife of Thomas Edison she is also the daughter of Lewis Miller. Mina’s father Lewis Miller was a hugely successful inventor and industrialist as well as the founder of Chautauqua Institution.

Mina Miller and her family spent their summers at Chautauqua Institution (check out our blog from earlier this week to learn about Chautauqua Institution). Mina’s father was one of the founders in 1874. Therefore Mina was extremely proud of her father. Especially his legacy in founding the historic Chautauqua Institution.

Furthermore, Mina was extremely passionate and active with her community involvement. This list includes the Audubon Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club, the West Orange Community League and much more.

The Edison Family 

She accomplished all this as well as filling the role of loving and supportive wife to Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors and most successful entrepreneurs in American history.

Mina also raised 6 children with Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison lost his first wife, Mary Stilwell Edison at a young age with who he had three children. She passed away in 1884. When Mina married Thomas Edison in 1886, she also became the stepmother to Edison’s three children at the early age of twenty. 

Mina and Thomas Edison also had three children together. All who all went on to build successful careers and each had a profound positive impact on society (check our blog next week for more details on the Edison children). 

Chautauqua Institution Archives

Once we decided to blog on Mina Miller Edison, we reached out to Chautauqua Institution. They graciously connected our team with the Chautauqua Institution Archives.

The Chautauqua Institution Archives, the Oliver Archives Center, contains thousands of letters from Mina corresponding with friends, colleagues and family members. The Chautauqua Institution archivist, Jonathan Schmitz is extremely knowledgeable on the Edison Family. 

It was truly fascinating leafing through dozens of letters. However, this is certainly a far cry from the digital age of texting, emailing, tweeting, snapchatting and instant messaging. For example, the archive hosts thousands of corresponding letters between Mina and her children. Mina kept everything. There was even a receipt from a weekend stay at the Chautauqua Institution legendary hotel, Hotel Athenaeum.

Let’s Connect

Thank you for reading our post on Mina Miller Edison. This blog continues our series on the Thomas Edison Family. Check out our previous blogs on Thomas Edison below:

Over the next few weeks, our blog series on the Edison Family will dig deeper into the life of Mina Miller Edison.

Also, to learn more about Falconer Electronics, please click here.

Lastly, let’s get social! We would love to connect with you on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Chautauqua Institution

Falconer Electronics is located in the southwestern corner of New York State.  We call Chautauqua County home which is also the birthplace of the National Historic Landmark, Chautauqua Institution. Chautauqua Institution is a 750 acre community on Chautauqua Lake that attracts 100,000 visitors each summer who explore spirituality, philosophy, cultural vitality and the arts.

President Theodore Roosevelt, a repeat visitor once called Chautauqua Institution: “the most American thing in America“.

The mission of Chautauqua Institution (or as locals call it, CHQ):

CHQ is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a program that explores the important religious, social and political issues of our times; stimulates provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to such issues; and promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.

The Chautauqua Institution summer season typically runs from the last week of June through the last week of August. For example, the 2018 season spans from June 23 – August 26. Each summer season celebrates four program areas: The Arts, Religion, Education and Recreation.

A summer at Chautauqua is loaded with lectures, concerts, religious services and as well as amazing displays of literary and performing arts. Chautauqua Institution attracts world class talent that perform ballet, theater, opera, symphony and dance. Click here to check out this season’s exciting events.

Chautauqua Institution Humble Beginnings

Chautauqua Institution sets on the shores of beautiful Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State. The Institution was originally called the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly. It was founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning by industrialist Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent. Hence, a place where spirituality meets continuing education.

“The original scheme was a Christian educational resort . . . [where] pleasure, science, and all friends of true culture should go side by side with true religion.”

Lewis Miller was a hugely successful inventor and entrepreneur as well as a generous philanthropist. Miller was also the father of Mina Miller.

Who is Mina Miller you ask? Mina Miller became Mina Miller Edison when she married Thomas Edison at the age of 20 in 1885.

Making this connection was particularly exciting for our team here at Falconer Electronics. Especially since we discovered the greatest inventor of electronics had established roots to our community by marrying the dynamic Mina Miller (we have much more exciting information on Mina in upcoming blog posts).

U.S. Presidents at Chautauqua Institution 

Many political leaders have spent time at Chautauqua over the years. For example, four U.S. Presidents have visited Chautauqua Institution while in office since its founding in 1874: Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Bill Clinton.

Ulysses S. Grant Visits in 1875

President Grant was invited to Chautauqua Institution one year after being founded. The intention was to invite a high profile guest to promote the newly christened “New York Chautauqua Assembly”.  Chautauqua Institution co-founder Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent, served as President Grant’s pastor in Illinois prior to either man reaching fame. Therefore, Grant gladly accepted the invite in August 1975.

Theodore Roosevelt – The Rough Rider 

President Theodore Roosevelt visited Chautauqua 3 times in the 1890’s as well as once again in 1905. For example, the Rough Rider shared his exploits at San Juan Hill in 1899. Local community leader, Randy Sweeney reads experts from that speech in the video below:

FDR “I Hate War” Speech 

President Roosevelt delivers his famous “I Hate War” speech at Chautauqua Institution on August 14, 1936. However, the world was already spiraling towards the devastation of a world war. Our friend, Jonathan Schmitz, the Chautauqua Institution archivist offers insight on FDR’s famous speech on the 75th anniversary.

Furthermore, here is the actual speech by FDR:

President Bill Clinton in 1996 

President Bill Clinton visited Chautauqua in 1996 during preparations for his debate with presidential candidate Bob Dole (see video below). Clinton conducted mock debates against former Sen. George Mitchell who Clinton joked that he was “badly beaten” during these preparations.

Clinton also visited Chautauqua Institution prior in 1992 while campaigning against President Bush.  Spending time in Chautauqua certainly brought good luck with Clinton winning both elections.

Let’s Connect

Thank you for reading our post on Chautauqua Institution. This continues our series on the Thomas Edison Family. Check out our previous blogs on Thomas Edison.

Also, to learn more about Falconer Electronics, please click here.

Lastly, let’s get social! We would love to connect with you on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

The Thomas Edison Family name is well known. Everyone that has ever learned about electricity knows of Thomas Edison. However, how much does anyone really know about the entire Edison family? The facts below can bring the entire Edison family into the spotlight.

Thomas Edison Facts

Facts about Thomas Edison

  • Throughout his life, Thomas only spent 3 months in public school
  • His mother took him out of public school and homeschooled him
  • Also, at the young age of 11, Thomas was already a business entrepreneur
  • His nickname was Al when he worked on the train system
  • He also had a science lab on a train
  • Due to an accident with his lab on a train, Thomas Edison lost his hearing
  • Thomas saved a young boy from being run over by a train
  • Due to the rescue, Thomas become a telegraphist
  • Thomas Edison had a tattoo
  • After teaching Mina Miller Morse Code he proposed marriage. That is also how she answered him with “Yes”
  • Thomas had 6 children: 1 daughter and 2 sons from both of his wives

Mina Miller Edison’s Family Facts

Mina Miller Edison's Family

  • Mina Miller’s father was a co-founder of Chautauqua Institute
  • All of the Miller children grew up visiting their Summer home in the institute
  • Education was very important to the Miller family
  • Therefore, after graduating high school Mina attended Miss Abby H. Johnson’s Home & Day School for Young Ladies in Boston
  • Mina owned the home at Glenmont along with calling herself the “home executive”
  • She also ran the household and staff
  • Furthermore, Mina Miller Edison was the daughter, wife, and mother of inventors
  • Mina Miller was less than 10 years older than Thomas Edison’s eldest child Marion

The Edison Children

  • Thomas Edison’s oldest daughter Marion was married to a German soldier during WWI
  • William, Thomas’s third child with his first wife, also fought in WWI for The United States
  • Edison’s two oldest children had nicknames for terms used in Morse Code: Dot and Dash
  • The three eldest Edison children assumed they could get what they wanted by dropping their famous father’s name
  • Also, Thomas Edison Jr. changed his name from Edison to Willard upon his father’s request.
  • Both of the eldest Edison boys (Thomas and William) turned to farming as professions
  • Madeleine Edison, Mina’s first child (Thomas’s fourth) was the only Edison child to have children of their own
  • The Edison family continued to vacation at Chautauqua Institute throughout their lives

Contact Us

Want to know more about Thomas Edison? Read our blog on Thomas Edison’s Life!

You can also learn more about his inventions. Check out our blog on his Successes and Failures.

Are you interested in more information about Mina Miller and her ties to Chautauqua Institution? Check out our other blog on Mina Miller!

Want to know more about what we do here at Falconer Electronics? Check out the rest of our site!

Also, check out our customer favorite pages  Wire Harness Assembly and Ground Straps.

More Helpful Information on Thomas & Mina Edison

National Park Service

The Chautauqua Daily

Thomas A. Edison Papers from Rutgers University

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

The Edison Museum

Thomas Edison Muckers

t.e. voting machine

Thomas Edison’s Successful Inventions

In the Beginning

Thomas Edison had many inventions. However, in 1868, at the age of 22, Thomas Edison invented an “electrical vote recorder“. This was Edison’s first patent. This recorder was a very simple concept. It was for Congress to record their votes. The recorder was also an electrical system containing a dial for each legislator. Each of these dials would have a “yes” and “no” option. Also, after the votes were made the clerk would record the results. Furthermore, the system would add the votes of both choices to obtain final results.

Edison’s Laboratory

Edison was the first inventor to see invention as far more than simply embodying an idea in a working artifact. His vision encompassed what the twentieth century would call innovation—invention, research, development, and commercialization. In the process, he helped to create a new institution for invention—the industrial research laboratory, which might be considered Edison’s greatest invention. 

Thomas A. Edison Papers

In 1876 Thomas Edison moved his family and resources out of Newark and into Menlo Park New Jersey. There he established a research facility. This facility was the first of its kind. It included top of the line equipment and resources. Therefore, creating new opportunities for other inventors to establish their own labs. Furthermore, Edison’s Menlo Park Lab is thought of as one of his greatest inventions. Along with opening the door for other inventors to create labs, it also gave Edison the perfect place to continue his own work.

Thomas Edison’s Favorite Creation

In 1877 Thomas Edison spent his time inventing his favorite invention. It was the first phonograph. The phonograph was the first stage in recordable music. However, it’s original purpose was to record voices. Edison utilized the vibration of speech. The vibrations created markings on tin foil with a needle. Later he would use the same type marking on cylinders and discs to record music. Edison’s favorite creation was the first step in the recordable music we know today.

Out of the Darkness into the Light

One of the most well-known inventions by Thomas Edison is his incandescent light bulb. However, Edison was not the first inventor to work with electrical lighting. Some inventors were very successful with their lighting inventions. Many of these other inventors were focusing on industrial lighting. Therefore, the real challenge for Edison was to create electrical lighting for home use.

Due to this need, Edison began his search for safe reliable lighting that could be used in homes. Incandescent lighting was the perfect solution. However, it took Edison a year and a half to invent the bulb. Edison had to ensure that it was not only economical but safe to use in a home. The biggest sign of success was with a lamp. It included a filament that was made by carbonizing a thread. This thread allowed the bulb to stay on for thirteen and half hours. Therefore, his work with light bulbs started the electrical system that we know today.

In December 1879 Edison showed how functional his incandescent bulbs were. He established a lighting system and installed it in Menlo Park. Therefore, establishing the first step in the creation of the electric industry. In September 1879 the first commercial power station began its operations. This station provided power and electrical lighting to one square mile. The beginning of The Age of Electricity was its result.

Thomas Edison Inventions: Electric Vote Recorder

Thomas Edison’s Electric Vote Recorder

Thomas Edison Inventions: Incandescent Light Bulb

Thomas Edison’s Incandescent Light Bulb

The Failed Inventions of Thomas Edison

When asked about his failures in an interview Thomas Edison stated:

“I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

Failure is Not the End

Thomas Edison did not like to refer to his inventions as successes or failures. In the field of inventing, it is possible to get bogged down by creations that don’t turn out the way you want. However, Edison was not one to focus on what went wrong. He would rather focus on what he could learn or improve. His first patent for the Vote Recorder is a specific example of this.

 Electrical Vote Recorder

Thomas Edison was very young when he invented the Vote Recorder. Due to this, Edison thought it was a sure thing. He believed his recorder would make life easier. Therefore, he took his invention to Congress. Due to its efficiency, however, Congress feared voters would not take the time to think through their votes. Therefore, it was promptly denied. Due to Congress’s denial of his first patented invention, Edison could have easily walked away from the profession. However, he didn’t see Congress’s dismissal as an ending to his career or passion.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

Talking Dolls

The phonograph was Thomas Edison’s favorite invention. He took the time to perfect it. He wanted it to not only record voices but music as well. Edison thought that he could take this technology and implement it into toys. He developed a housing for the machine. It was small enough to be placed inside doll bodies. Edison even had children record the voices for the dolls. This was so they would be more relatable. However, the quality was not great. It was even considered frightening. Due to crackling and hissing families thought that the dolls sounded like monsters. Therefore, his idea for the talking doll did not take off at the time. However, like the talking dolls of today, Edison opened the door for other modern technology.

Electronic Pens

Modern offices all have copiers. However, during Edison’s time, there was no easy way to make multiples of the same work. The only way was to handwrite them. Handwritten copies had disadvantages. Along with misspellings, there was also a concern that the writing would be illegible. Therefore, Edison thought of a better solution. He believed an electric pen could change how offices, schools, and churches conducted business.

Edison combined a small motor and battery with a needle. The motor would then power the needle to move up and down. This movement caused the needle to poke holes through a stencil. Ink could then be rolled over the markings. It was then possible to make multiple copies of one written work.

The mechanics of the pen worked. However, it was heavy to work with. It was also loud for a business or academic environment. Therefore, Edison made improvements. He improved the sound and weight, but it wasn’t enough. The pen required a battery. The battery required maintenance. Therefore, specific chemicals had to be poured into the machine. A process that was very messy.

Tattoo Guns

Edison’s electric pen was not the best match for businesses, schools, and churches. However, it did introduce new possibilities to a different industry. The tattoo industry. He did not hold the patent for the early tattoo gun. However, Edison’s electric pen holds the credit for having a strong influence on the design.

Thomas Edison had a tattoo. It was five dots arranged how the number five is represented on a dice. However, no one is sure where Edison received his tattoo. Many people wonder if he tattooed himself using his own electric pen.



Edison inventions: The Electric Pen

Thomas Edison’s Electric Pen

The Original Tattoo Gun

The Original Tattoo Gun

Concrete, it’s Not Just for Sidewalks

After developing a lightbulb for home use Edison was determined to continue to make life better for others. Edison came up with a way to pre-build pieces of homes out of cement. Therefore, keeping the cost low for struggling families. The idea was to pour the pieces for the houses. Then those pieces could be quickly assembled for those in need of housing. Due to their material, these homes would also be fireproof. However, there was resistance among the communities. The houses were eyesores. Furthermore, his target audience did not like the fact that everyone would know their financial situation.

In addition to creating cost-effective housing, Edison had the belief that he could develop cost-effective furniture. Therefore, Edison’s idea for concrete homes became an idea to create concrete furniture. The belief was that newlyweds wouldn’t want to spend too much on furniture that wouldn’t last. The hopes were that they would flock to buy his cost-effective alternative that would last a lifetime. However, concrete was too expensive to be an alternative for other material. Also, people didn’t like the look of the furniture.

Yankee Stadium

Even though Edison’s idea for concrete homes and furniture didn’t take off it wasn’t a complete failure. Edison’s concrete company held the contract to build Yankee Stadium. Therefore, even though his concrete homes did not work out there was value to his idea of building concrete structures. In addition to Yankee Stadium, the few concrete homes he did sell, still stand today.

The Edison Spirit Phone

Another interest of Thomas Edison’s was the spirit world. He spoke about an invention that was a combination of technology from the telephone and the telegraph. The concept of this new invention was to cross the line between the living and the dead. It was also Edison’s hope that it would make it possible for people to have conversations with the dead.

However, there was never any proof that the invention was real. Even after Edison’s death, no record of a spirit phone was found. Therefore, it has become a belief that there was never any intentions of creating such a device. The only evidence of such a phone was Edison’s mention of it in an interview. This is now seen as being a joke that he pulled.

Even without evidence, there are still people who believe that Edison had such a creation. It is some of those same people, who believe that he kept it to himself. They also believe he never shared his plans with any of his coworkers or fellow inventors. Whether it was real or just a grand joke Edison definitely peaked interest with the possibility of this invention. This is Due to people often being intrigued by the thought of communicating with their passed loved ones.

The Iron Ore Separator

Thomas Edison had multiple inventions. Many of which that can be thought of as failures. However, there is none like his Iron Ore Separator. Edison spent money, time, and resources on developing technology for his separator. The end goal was to be able to separate the iron ore from lower grade ores that were unusable. Edison worked for ten years on his separator project. He invested all of the money he had earned from his work with General Electric. In the end, all of the money he had invested had been for nothing. Edison ended his project when iron ore prices dropped. Also, iron ore became an obsolete substance. If not for his sustainable success of the phonograph Edison would’ve been left with nothing after the separator incident.

Successes and Failures in Inventing

Thomas Edison is seen as one of the greatest inventors that ever lived. He had multiple successes and failures. However, his failures never stopped him. His life was about his inventions. He was continuously seeking answers and solutions. Edison was an inventor until his death. He stuck with his passion for inventing. Even when his inventions didn’t turn out how he thought they would. Also, there were times he was able to change his idea to suit what the situation needed at the time.

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Helpful Links About Edison’s Life

Links About Edison’s Inventions


Our team at Falconer Electronics works with many entrepreneurs creating brand new electrical products that make our lives better. Perfecting a new product on the first try is extremely challenging if not impossible. It takes a great deal of patience and determination. Also, plenty of trial and error. Thomas Edison represents that tenacious entrepreneurial drive to reach success.

Therefore, we decided to dig deep into the life of Thomas Edison to show his massive accomplishments with New Product Development. Being in the electrical manufacturing sector, we dedicate a huge thank you to Mr. Edison’s relentless pursuit to light up the world. 

ChildhoodThomas Edison at 10 years old

Nancy Edison gave birth to Thomas Alva Edison on February 11th, 1847 in Milan, Ohio and he was the youngest of seven kids. Edison only spent seven years in Ohio before moving to Port Huron, Michigan. In Port Huron, Thomas spent only three months attending school. This being the only formal schooling he had before homeschooling by his mother, a formal school teacher. While developing a great interest in experimenting he used pocket change to purchase inexpensive chemicals. Edison’s mind wanted to see the properties of the chemicals and compare them to the textbooks.


Growing Businessman?

Thomas Edison at 12 in train car working on printing press

When Edison was eleven he sold his family garden produce in the market. By the age of twelve, he sold newspapers on the trains of Grand Trunk Railroad between Port Huron and Detroit. As his business grew, he hired boys as assistants on the trains. Also, he opened two small stores in Port Huron. He gained the nickname Al and all the trainmen called him that. Thomas transferred some of his chemicals to the baggage car of the train, along with a small hand printing press from Detroit. He had the first railway chemical laboratory and railway printing press. As a result, his paper “The Weekly Herald” had grown to 800 copies.    

       In 1862, at the young age of fifteen, Edison worked regularly an eighteen-hour workday. One afternoon, the baggage car ran over a rough piece of track. With Edison’s laboratory inside it jolted a stick of phosphorus to the floor. This started a fire in the car that took all the efforts of Edison and the train crew to subdue. When the train finally came to a halt, all his laboratory equipment and his printing press were thrown out on the platform. This accident led to be the cause of Edison’s hearing loss that came in the years following. He found that his deafness became an asset, and kept his sunny, kind and serene personality.


Thomas Edison at 16 as a telegrapherIn August 1862 another incident occurred. A boxcar was being shunted, at considerable speed, to a side track. The station agent’s little son had been playing on this sidetrack. Edison on the platform saw the incoming danger. He jumped on the track and reached the child just in time to haul him clear. One front wheel of the car struck his heel and threw him with the child to the side of the track. Their faces and hands were cut, but no serious injury. On the following day, the station agent offered to teach Edison the Morse telegraphy, with a view to helping him secure a position as railway telegraphist. He accepted, and in a few months, taking lessons three times a week, he became proficient at the keys. For the following six years, Edison had a career of telegraphist.

As a result, Edison became part of the service of the Western Union Telegraph Company. This was through a number of cities in the middle west, and the south. He was a noted rapid and accurate operator, frequently overseeing to press work on night duty. He spent all his available leisure time in experiment and study.

Edison’s Entry into Inventing

     In October 1868, when Edison was 21 years old, he applied for his first American patent to a vote recorder. This deviceVote recorder Edison's first invention enabled the affirmative and negative votes of a seated voting assembly to be swiftly recorded and automatically totaled at the chairman’s desk. Edison was successful in demonstrating the invention at Washington. Unfortunately, there was no demand for a mechanism of this kind. Edison went back to his little workshop in Boston and gave up the career of a telegraphist changing entirely to the invention.. 

      In 1869, Edison traveled to New York. One morning in New York, Edison was standing near a transmitter. It became suddenly deranged by an internal accident, causing all the indicators in the connected brokers’ offices to go bad. He knew the nature of the derangement and volunteered to correct it. He was able to restore normal operation quickly. This led to his being made manager of the system which he improved and was part of developing new inventions. 

      A few days after Black Friday, September 24th, 1869 when gold went to a high premium, he entered into the first recorded American firm of Consulting Electrical Engineers. After the successful sale of some of his inventions to the Western Union Telegraph Company, Edison opened machine shops at Newark, New Jersey. Also for invention and manufacture. He kept 50 workmen busy, and a night force as well. He was foreman, which meant living on the premises. Here he was part of developing a number of telegraph inventions. The quadruplex for sending and receiving four messages simultaneously over a single wire. Also the high-speed automatic telegraph. As a result, he took out nearly 120 American patents, almost all in electric telegraphy.


In 1871, Edison married Mary G. Stillwell and had three children, Marion E., Thomas A., and William L. Edison. In 1876, Edison moved his laboratory from Newark to Menlo Park, New Jersey where he could concentrate on inventing. This was theThomas Edison as an adult year of the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia,  where the new Bell telephone was first shown to the public. Edison produced a carbon-button transmitter. This virtually converted the telephone from an experiment to a commercially available apparatus. It was in his experimenting with the carbon transmitter that Edison coined the now well-known call word “Hello.” In 1877, Edison started developing the first stages of his phonograph or talking machine.

In 1878 he took up the problem of “subdivision of the electric light”. He found that a commercial incandescent lighting system would require its lamps to be connected “in parallel” not “in series.” After a number of failures, he made a successful lamp. It had a filament of a carbonized cotton thread, mounted in a highly evacuated glass globe, and sealed-in platinum-wire leads. In October 1879, his lamp glowed for 45 hours before breaking.

Edison decided to open a central incandescent lamp station in the center of the downtown business district with underground conductors. Due to Edison being his own chief engineer, the Pearl Street Station turned on its current to the lamps in the district of New York. The new incandescent lamps won popularity through their steadiness, coolness, freedom from combustion products, and reduced fire hazard. He saw the successful introduction of the incandescent lamp into factories. Also, homes would immediately admit the use of the electric motor for operating machinery and household power devices. One of these discoveries in 1883 was the “‘Edison effect”, a discharge that occurred in the lamps, when being overused.

The Final YearsThomas Edison and his family

Edison moved his laboratory from Menlo Park to New York City, after his wife’s death in August 1884. In 1886, he married Miss Mina Miller of Akron, Ohio. They made their home at West Orange, New Jersey. They had three children Madeleine, Charles, and Theodore.

Edison built a laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. He started work there in October 1887. He perfected the phonograph and made a long series of other inventions. This included the alkaline storage battery, the moving-picture camera, synthetic rubber, the telescribe, the magnetic ore separator, various improvements in manufacturing concrete and other chemical products, as well as many war inventions for the United States Government. At the time of his death on October 18, 1931, He had received 1,093 U.S. patents, a total still untouched by any other inventor.

To learn more about Thomas Edison’s Inventions, stay tuned for next weeks blog!

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Biographical Memoirs

History Culture

Rutgers Edison Papers