Thomas A. Edison

Thomas A. Edison
J. Walter Thompson / Associated Press


Thomas A. Edison
Film: South side of the 6700 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Thomas Alva Edison on Feb. 11, 1847 in Milan, OH
Died Oct. 18, 1931 of diabetes in West Orange, NJ

Thomas Edison's success in heating a spiral of carbonized cotton thread to incandescence for 14 hours in his lab in New Jersey was one of his breakthroughs that led to the formation of the motion picture industry. He did that on Oct. 22, 1879, and followed up a month later by keeping a filament of common cardboard alight in a vacuum for 45 hours. Three years later he went on to light up half a square mile of downtown Manhattan, though only one of the six dynamos in his design of his central power station worked when he pulled the switch on Sept. 4, 1882.

In 1894 Edison debuted his latest invention — the kinetoscope, a device that allowed an individual to view a motion picture. The kinetoscope let to movie projectors, which became the standard for viewing a motion picture. The kinetoscope was abandoned soon after movie projectors hit the market a year and a half later, but the public never lost its appetite for moving pictures.

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