Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was born in the mid 1800’s and is most widely known for creating the lightbulb. However, Edison is credited for some of the most innovative and influential inventions in history. His inventions are the basis for many of the technologies we use on a daily basis. Without the influence of Edison, mass media would not look the same way as it does today.

Edison invented one of the most significant devices in our history, the Phonograph.

The Phonograph is capable of recording one’s voice and playing it back immediately. The device had two diaphragm-and-needle units, one to record and the other used for playback. There was a mouthpiece attached to the machine and when a person spoke into it, the vibrations were indented onto the cylinder by the recording needle. Sadly, the recordings were only able to be played back a few times before the quality of the sound became unrecognizable. After it was built, Edison recorded himself reciting the poem “Mary had a little lamb” and he was able to listen back to the recording of his own voice.

In 1891 Edison filed for a patent that included the Kinetograph and the Kinetoscope.

This patent included the concept of using cylinder-based film, sized at 35mm. The Kinetograph was one of the first motion picture cameras invented. The camera was a big stationary piece of equipment and because of that, Edison needed a location to specifically have his movies filmed. The location became known as the Black Maria and was Edison’s primary studio where he shot his films.

The Black Maria was a small, uncomfortable and dark studio. In the early days of cinema, cameras required an enormous amount of light, which is why Edison implemented a retractable roof to let in the natural sunlight. It was built on a rotation wheel so that when they were filming they were able to rotate towards the sun throughout the day. The films that were created in Edison’s first production house were films that included dance acts, magic shows, plays and vaudeville performances.


The Kinetoscope was the second half of his motion picture system. The device was designed for an individual to look through a viewer window on top of the device to see the film that had been created. This device established the early technology that was required in order to create larger projections of a film for audience viewing. In the late 1890’s The Edison Manufacturing Company bought the rights to a device called the Phantoscope which was a device that used film and electric light to project onto a wall screen. The company decided to manufacture the machine and create films with it under the condition that it be advertised as Thomas Edison’s newest invention. The device was renamed to Vitascope. However, a short time later the Edison Company abandon the marketing of the Vitascope and created the Projectoscope.

Thomas Edison was a man of great influence and brilliance. He is credited with some of the greatest inventions of all time. Edison also holds over 2,000 patents globally and is listed as a contributor on several other inventions.

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