Thomas Alva Edison, the most prolific inventor in North America, with over 1000 patents, was the descendant of early settlers from the Netherlands to the Hudson Valley region of New York/New Jersey. However, his genealogical trail encompasses many cities, provinces, states, and countries, including Holland, France, Scotland, New Amsterdam, New York, New Jersey, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Ohio, and Michigan. He was motivated to develop and invent in response to perceived needs of commercial devices and was the creator of the concept of an industrial research laboratory. His activities covered a wide-range of chemical, electrical, medical, metallurgical, entertainment, and communication devices and led to the creation of major worldwide industries. However, his expressed underlying concern was the "service it might give others". This presentation reviews commercial developments in comparison with the technologies and motivations of the time and is illustrated by material from the Rutgers University 'Edison Papers Project', Edison's personal notes found in the Edison Battery Factory and preserved by Professor Salkind, and records of The Electrochemical Society. © 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.
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