Contested Currents
The Race to Electrify America

Thomas Alva Edison
– (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931)
Thomas Edison worked as a telegraph opperator and became quite familiar with the design and manufacture of telegraphs. In 1875, he invented a "multiplex  telegraph", a system that allowed multiple telegraph signals to be sent over a single wire. He also invented an improved stock tape ticker, an invention he called the "Universal Stock Printer". By selling his patents for these inventions, Edison made enough money to create the world’s first industrial research lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was there, in 1877, where Edison first won internation fame by inventing the phonograph. His fame and reputation increased even more in 1878, when Edison improved the incandescent light bulb.

To create an electrical power system for the whole nation, Edison realized he needed the help of wealthy industralists like JP Morgan and William Vanderbilt. On September 4th, 1882, Edison switched on the world's first DC electrical power distribution system, providing 110 volts direct current (DC) to lower Manhattan, including JP Morgan’s house and the offices of the New York Times.

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