Edison, Thomas Alva

Born at Milan, OH, and very precocious as a child. Various legends of the cause of his deafness exist, but most likely it began at age 12 while he worked as a trainboy on a railroad, possibly from the continuous noise. One version of his becoming deaf, told by Edison himself to a friend around 1915, had him selling newspapers on a train when an offended railway guard picked up the young boy by both ears and gave him a good shaking, breaking both eardrums in the process.Scarlet fever at age 3 and an operation for mastoiditis are also possibilities. Entered the new field of telegraphy at age 15; in 1869, he became an inventor, initially in the telegraphic field but quickly branching out to other endeavors. Among his thousands of patented inventions are the phonograph, the electric light bulb (and the supporting electrical system), and the motion picture (and film studios). He also made several scientific discoveries, and coined the word "hello". Died at West Orange, NJ.
Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences, p.108-112; Extraordinary People with Disabilities, p.41-44; Movers & Shakers, p.35-40; American National Biography, vol.7 p.310-315; Silence of the Spheres, p.62-63, 67, 70; The Forgotten People, p.15-19; Interesting Deaf Americans, p.12-13; Peeps into the Deaf World, p.194-195.
11 February 1847-18 October 1931