Thomas Edison Patents

Thomas Edison Patents

In all, Edison was awarded 1,093 U.S. patents across a wide variety of technologies. Including his foreign patents, successfully filed in other countries, his total is 2,332. What makes him such an important figure in the world of invention is the depth and breadth of his work. He patents whole systems and the components that support such systems. His patents can be grouped into eight categories, whose total productive output can be “roughly approximated” as:

  • Electric light & power  [425]
  • Phonographs and recorded sound [200]
  • Telegraphy and telephony [185]
  • Batteries [145]
  • Mining and iron ore milling [50]
  • Cement [ 40]
  • Miscellaneous [50]
  • Motion pictures [10]

Edison appears to have had two great periods where his patent applications soared, 1872-1890, and 1897-1912; but throughout his career there is a steady flow of ideas and concepts for new products. He meticulously records his work in 4,000 notebooks to protect his intellectual property, influencing generations of inventors and entrepreneurs who would follow in his footsteps.

His legendary West Orange, NJ Labs are the crescendo of the inventive work started in his earlier labs in Newark, NJ and Menlo Park, NJ. At West Orange, Edison weds invention to entrepreneurial activities, demonstrating how invention has grown from its cottage industry roots to a full-scale commercial enterprise—destined to be an essential part of modern business. Here he perfects the embodiment of the R&D labs [and its important adjunct, the research project manager] in support of new product development. From his office/library at West Orange, the great inventor manages thirty companies under the umbrella of Thomas A. Edison Industries, Inc., employing over 10,000 workers in the design, prototyping and commercialization of many new products for sale to the world.

He is the iconic inventor-businessman, whose face is recognized the world over, symbolic of creativity and bright new ideas. He is the man who helps define what progress means.

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