Thomas A. Edison Papers

Chronology: 1879-1931

The chronology for the 1920s is less detailed than that for the rest of Edison's life because the editors have not yet researched those years. As the research on the Edison Papers editions continues, the chronology will be expanded.


top 1879
Jan 2 Begins construction of his first generator.
Jan 19-29 Conducts an extensive series of experiments on platinum and other metals.
Mar 14 Edison's nephew, Charles P. Edison, tests the new electromotograph (loud-speaking) telephone receiver in London.
Mar Devises a bipolar generator design ("Long-legged Mary Ann").
May 14 Incorporates the Edison Telephone Company of Europe.
May Provides a generator for running arc lights aboard the USS Jeannette during its Arctic mission.
June 17 Receives an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the trustees of Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Spring Begins a search for plentiful supplies of platinum in the mining regions of Canada and in the western and southern United States.
Aug 2 Participates in organizing the Edison Telephone Company of London.
Aug Hires glassblower Ludwig Boehm and begins developing improved vacuum pumps.
Summer Makes improvements in his electromotograph telephone receiver for England.
Oct 14 Signs an agreement with Jose D. Husbands for the sale of Edison telephones in Chile.
Oct 22 Conducts the first successful experiment with a high-resistance carbon filament.
Nov 1 Executes his first patent application for a high-resistance carbon filament (U.S. Pat. 223,898).
Dec 9 Organizes the Edison Ore Milling Company.
Dec 31 Holds the first public demonstration of his incandescent electric lighting system at Menlo Park.
top 1880
Feb 13 Observes for the first time what becomes known as the Edison Effect.
Winter Expands the Menlo Park laboratory staff and works on the development of components for a complete system of incandescent electric lighting.
Mar 25 Experiments with a process of magnetic ore separation.
late Apr Installs the first commercial marine incandescent electric lighting plant aboard Henry Villard's SS Columbia.
May 13 Tests his experimental electric railway at Menlo Park.
July 3 Provides the principal funding for Science, which begins publication on this date.
July 19 Makes the first lamp tests using bamboo filaments, which become standard in Edison lamps.
Sep Begins construction of a direct-connected dynamo, known as the"Jumbo,"using a Porter-Allen steam engine.
Oct 1 Begins the commercial production of electric lamps at the Edison Lamp Works in Menlo Park.
Dec 17 Participates in organizing the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York.
Dec 20 Demonstrates his electric lighting system at Menlo Park to the New York City Aldermen.
Dec 23 Incorporates the Edison Electric Light Company of Europe.
top 1881
Jan 25 Signs an agreement with Alexander Graham Bell and others to organize the Oriental Telephone Company.
Feb 28 Employs Samuel lnsull as his private secretary.
Mar 1 Establishes a testing department at the Edison Lamp Works, which also becomes headquarters for lamp experiments.
c. Mar 10 Moves his business operations to 65 5th Avenue in New York City, where he daily advises the managers of the various Edison light companies.
Mar Moves his residence to New York City.
Winter Organizes the Edison Electric Lamp Company, the Edison Machine Works, and other companies to manufacture lamps, generators, conductors, and other components for his electric lighting system.
Apr 30 Places Charles Hughes in charge of experiments to preserve fruit by placing it in a vacuum.
May 17-June 25 Executes twenty-three patent applications on electric lighting.
Spring Begins laying conductors for the Pearl Street central station in New York City.
July 1 Sends Charles Batchelor to Paris to supervise the Edison exhibit at the International Electrical Exhibition and to oversee Edison electric lighting interests in Europe.
July 26 Executes a patent application with Patrick Kenny for a facsimile telegraph (U.S. Pat. 479,184).
Aug 10 Edison's exhibit opens at the Paris Electrical Exhibition.
Sep 14 Signs a contract with Henry Villard, who agrees to provide funds for experiments on electric railroads.
Sep Edison's ore separator is used by the Edison Ore Milling Company to separate iron ore from black sand at Quonocontaug, Rhode Island.
Fall Establishes at the Edison Machine Works a testing department that also becomes the headquarters for dynamo and other electric lighting experiments.
top 1882
Jan 12 Edison's central station on Holborn Viaduct in London begins operation.
Jan 17 Edison's exhibit opens at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London.
Winter Establishes companies in London and Paris to manufacture electric light system components and to install central stations in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Establishes electric light companies in Latin America.
May 8 Begins at the Menlo Park laboratory an extensive series of electric lighting experiments that he considers beyond the capacity of the newly established Edison Machine Works.
Spring-Summer Executes fifty-three patent applications covering electric lighting, electric railways, and secondary batteries.
Sep 4 Opens the Pearl Street central station in the Wall Street district of New York.
Oct 4-Nov 28 Executes thirty-four patent applications covering electric lighting and electric railways.
Nov Closes his Menlo Park laboratory and establishes a laboratory on the top floor of the Bergmann and Company factory in New York City.
top 1883
Jan 19 Edison's first village electric lighting system using overhead wires begins operation in Roselle, New Jersey.
c. May 1 Forms the Thomas A. Edison Construction Department and spends the next year promoting and building central stations in the United States.
May-June Exhibits his electric railway at the Railway Exhibition in Chicago.
June Executes seventeen patent applications covering electric lighting.
July 4 Attends the opening of the first three-wire Edison incandescent electric light central station (village system) at Sunbury, Pennsylvania.
Oct 1 Edison's first three-wire underground central station system goes into operation at Brockton, Massachusetts.
Nov 2 Executes a patent application for an electrical indicator using what becomes known as an Edison effect lamp (U.S. Pat. 307,031).
top 1884
Feb 9 Executes a patent application with Patrick Kenny for a chemical recording stock quotation telegraph (U.S. Pat. 314,115).
Feb-Mar Vacations in Florida with his ill wife, Mary Stilwell Edison.
May 14 Is elected a vice-president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, an organization of which he is a founding member.
Spring Charles Batchelor returns from Europe and becomes general manager of the Edison Machine Works.
Aug 9 Mary Stilwell Edison dies at Menlo Park.
Sep 1 Merges the Thomas A. Edison Construction Department with the Edison Company for Isolated Lighting.
Sep 2 Attends the opening of the International Electrical Exhibition in Philadelphia.
Oct Negotiates a contract with American Bell Telephone Company, which agrees to pay his expenses and salary for telephone experiments.
top 1885
Feb 28 Attends the World Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans.
Mar Vacations in Florida with Ezra T. Gilliland and purchases land in Fort Myers.
Winter-Spring Executes seventeen patent applications covering telegraph and telephone inventions.
June-July Spends several weeks at Woodside, Gilliland's beach house near Boston, where he keeps a personal diary and becomes enamoured with Mina Miller, whom he first met at Gilliland's home in Boston earlier in the year.
Aug 11-18 Attends the Chautauqua Institution, co-founded by Lewis Miller.
ca. Aug 23-31 Travels through the White Mountains of New Hampshire with Mina Miller and a group of friends. While at the Maplewood Hotel in Bethlehem, N.H., proposes marriage in Morse code. Mina accepts by tapping out "yes."
Sep 30 After a week-long visit with the Gillilands in Boston, where he again sees Mina Miller, writes to Lewis Miller formally requesting his daughter's hand in marriage.
Oct-Nov Executes five patent applications covering telegraph inventions.
mid-Dec Visits the Miller family in Akron, Ohio.
top 1886
mid-Jan Purchases Glenmont, his home in Llewellyn Park, New Jersey.
Feb 24 Marries Mina Miller in Akron, Ohio.
Mar-Apr Honeymoons in Fort Myers, Florida, and keeps a set of notebooks, witnessed by Mina.
May 16-31 Workers strike at the Edison Machine Works.
Spring Is involved in negotiations to form the Edison United Manufacturing Company to act as a sales agent for his electric light manufacturing companies.
Moves to Glenmont.
June 23 Announces that the Edison Machine Works will relocate to the former site of the McQueen Locomotive Shop in Schenectady, New York.
Oct Begins experiments on an improved phonograph.
Nov Moves his laboratory to the Edison Lamp Works in East Newark (Harrison), New Jersey
Fall Executes twenty patent applications relating to electric lighting.
Dec 30 Becomes ill with pleurisy and is confined to Glenmont.
top 1887
Winter Purchases fourteen acres of land in West Orange, New Jersey, near his home in Llewellyn Park; plans to construct a new laboratory.
Jan-Apr Conducts experiments on squirted cellulose filaments for incandescent lamps at the Edison Lamp Works; continues this work at the West Orange laboratory
Feb-Apr Recuperates from pleurisy at his winter home in Fort Myers, Florida.
May 3 Hires H. Hudson Holly as the architect for the West Orange laboratory.
May 24 Executes patent applications (U.S. Pats. 380,100 and 476,983) for a pyromagnetic motor and generator.
July 30 Dismisses H. Hudson Holly as architect and supervising contractor for construction of the West Orange laboratory.
Summer Rents a factory in Bloomfield, New Jersey, for phonograph manufacture.
Summer-Fall Charles Batchelor oversees construction and outfitting of the West Orange laboratory.
Oct 1 Reaches agreement with Lowell Briggs and William W. Jacques for the rights to manufacture and market dolls with Edison phonographs.
Oct 10 Organizes the Edison Phonograph Company.
Oct 14 Reaches agreement with George E. Gouraud for the international marketing rights for the phonograph.
Oct 28 Appoints Ezra T. Gilliland as general sales agent for the Edison Phonograph Company.
Oct 28 Transfers his phonograph patents to the Edison Phonograph Company in exchange for 11,960 shares of company stock.
early Dec West Orange laboratory opens.
Dec Arthur E. Kennelly joins the laboratory staff at West Orange to direct electrical research in the Galvanometer Room.
top 1888
Jan 17 Executes a patent application (U.S. Pat. 484,582) for the electroplating process of duplicating phonograph cylinder records. Experimentation continues throughout the next decade, leading to the first commercial release of "Gold Moulded" records in 1902.
Jan Discusses the formation of a partnership with Henry Villard to include research and manufacturing interests.
Jan Jonas W. Aylsworth begins experiments on the composition of phonograph cylinders.
Jan Reginald A. Fessenden joins the staff in the chemical laboratory at West Orange; conducts experiments to improve insulation compounds for electrical wiring.
Jan-Feb Renews the search for bamboo, grass, and other fibers to be used in the incandescent lamp filament; sends Frank McGowan and Charles F. Hanington to South America and James Ricalton to Asia.
Apr 2 Is elected resident member of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Apr-May Jesse Lippincoft holds a series of meetings with Ezra T. Gilliland regarding the purchase of Edison's phonograph rights.
May 3 Organizes the Edison Phonograph Works.
May 31 Edison's second daughter, Madeleine, is born.
May Construction begins on the Edison Phonograph Works factory in West Orange.
May-Aug Claims that his perfected phonograph will be ready for market in "a few weeks."
May-Oct Executes twenty-two patent applications for phonographs and cylinder records.
June Engages in an intensive campaign, including several overnight efforts, to produce the improved cylinder phonograph.
July 14 The North American Phonograph Company is organized.
July-Dec Conducts electrocution experiments upon dogs and other animals with Arthur E. Kennelly and Harold P. Brown.
Aug 1 Reaches agreement with Jesse Lippincott and the North American Phonograph Company for phonograph marketing.
Aug 20-30 Vacations at Chautauqua, New York, and Akron, Ohio, with his family.
Aug-Sep Confers with Henry Villard regarding the proposed business consolidation that becomes the Edison General Electric Company.
Oct 8 Executes the first of four major patent caveats for the kinetoscope and kinetograph.
ca. Oct-Nov Begins small-scale production of phonographs at the Edison Phonograph Works in West Orange.
Oct-Dec Conducts research on biocidal measures for the control of yellow fever.
Dec 27 Organizes the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works.
Dec 31 Transfers several discontinued experimental projects into a "dead experiments" account, including artificial silk, typewriter, cotton picker, pyromagnetic dynamo, and flying machine.
top 1889
Jan 10-Feb 1 Executes twelve patent applications or improvements in phonographs and cylinder records.
Jan Files suit against his former associates John C. Tomlinson and Ezra T. Gilliland for alleged fraud in negotiations with Jesse Lippincott and the North American Phonograph Company.
Mar 6 Sends William J. Hammer to Paris to organize the Edison exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1889.
Mar-July Constructs an ore milling plant at Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania.
Apr 24 The Edison General Electric Company is organized.
July 23 Testifies regarding electric power and electrocution in William Kemmler v. Charles F. Durston.
Aug 3 Leaves with Mina Miller Edison and Francis Upton for Europe; subsequently attends the Paris Exposition and tours France, Belgium, and Germany.
Oct 6 Returns to the United States.
Nov 8 Travels to Peekskill, New York, to see the Putnam mine and to survey iron deposits.
Dec Organizes the Edison Manufacturing Company as an unincorporated enterprise.
top 1890
Feb 24 The Edison United Phonograph Company is organized with Edison as vice president.
Feb The Automatic Phonograph Exhibition Company is organized to market the coin-in-the-slot phonograph.
Feb-Mar Travels to Virginia and North Carolina to examine ore deposits and mining tracts.
Apr 30 Closes the experimental ore milling plant at Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania.
Apr Discontinues inconclusive insulation experiments; discharges his chemical laboratory staff including Reginald A. Fessenden.
May The Edison Phonograph Works suspends the manufacture of talking dolls.
May-Aug Conducts a series of ore separation tests at the Ogden mine in Sussex County, New Jersey
June 10 Testifies in Edison Electric Light Company v. U.S. Electric Lighting Company.
Spring Begins experiments with Arthur E. Kennelly for the design of the first alternating current transformer built at the Edison General Electric Company plant in Schenectady (formerly the Edison Machine Works).
July 4 Leaves on a two-week trip to the Midwest.
Aug 3 Edison's third son, Charles, is born.
Aug Purchases property in Silver Lake, New Jersey (now the Bloomfield-Belleville area); locates the plant of the Edison Manufacturing Company on the site.
late Aug Experiments with streetcar motors at the Edison General Electric Company plant in Schenectady.
Summer Collaborates with George P. Lathrop on a projected science fiction novel entitled Progress.
Oct Fails in his attempt to gain control of the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company.
Oct Reaches agreement with the Edison General Electric Company for support of his research on electric light and power.
Dec 3 The mill of the Edison Iron Concentrating Company at Humboldt, Michigan, burns down.
top 1891
Jan Jonas W. Aylsworth resigns his position at the West Orange laboratory. Returns intermittently as a consultant and employee regarding the composition of phonograph records, the development of x-ray apparatus, and incandescent lamps.
Jan Travels to Port Huron for the funeral of his brother, William Pitt Edison.
Feb Returns to the Edison General Electric Company plant in Schenectady to work on an alternating current transformer and to conduct additional experiments on streetcar motors.
May 12 Travels to Chicago for discussions regarding the electric lighting business and plans for the 1893 Columbian Exposition.
May 20 Demonstrates the kinetoscope at the West Orange laboratory for the Federation of Women's Clubs.
May 21 The Board of Directors of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works authorizes the purchase of the Ogden Iron Company.
ca. May-June The New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works begins delivering loose ore on contract to Bethlehem Iron Company.
June-Dec Spends most of his time at the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works plant in Ogden.
July 14 The primacy of Edison's lamp patents is upheld in the decision of Electric Light Company v. U.S. Electric Lighting Company.
Aug 24 Executes patent applications (U.S. Pats. 493,426 and 589,168) for the kinetoscope and kinetograph.
top 1892
Mar Begins experimenting with the composition and production of iron ore briquettes.
Apr 15 The General Electric Company is organized.
May Samuel Insull resigns his positions with the Edison General Electric Company and Edison Phonograph Works and assumes the presidency of the Edison General Illuminating Company of Chicago.
Summer The village at the site of the Ogden plant is renamed 'Edison."
Oct Enters contractual relations with the General Electric Company (established originally with the Edison General Electric Company) for research on electric light and power.
Nov 14 Shuts down the Ogden plant for repairs and modifications.
Dec Begins construction on the Black Maria motion picture studio.
top 1893
Feb The construction of the Black Maria is completed, although it is not fully outfitted and operational until May.
Feb Prepares design plans and cost estimates with Arthur E. Kennelly for the General Electric Company's bid on the Niagara Falls power project.
May 9 Displays his standard peephole kinetoscope (vertical-feed, 1½ inch film width) at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.
Aug-Sep Joins members of the Miller family for a visit to Chicago during the Columbian Exposition.
Dec. 29 Executes a patent application (U.S. Pat. 567,187) for the "Giant" ore crushing rolls.
top 1894
  The bank panic of 1893 and the ensuing depression result in the discharging of numerous "old hands" and the suspension of many activities at the laboratory.
Spends most of his time at the Ogden plant. Is available in West Orange only on weekends and occasionally on Mondays.
Sells blocks of his General Electric Company stock.
Jan 9 Resigns as president of the North American Phonograph Company and as vice president of the Edison United Phonograph Company.
Jan William K. L. Dickson produces "Edison Kinetographic Record of a Sneeze," the first motion picture to receive a copyright. Dickson and Theodore Heise go on to copyright approximately seventy-five motion pictures in 1894.
Mar 1 Arthur E. Kennelly resigns his position at the West Orange laboratory; forms a consulting firm with Edwin Houston in Philadelphia.
Mar The first contract for the production of twenty-five kinetoscopes is completed.
Apr 1 William E. Gilmore becomes vice president and general manager of the Edison Manufacturing Company.
Apr 14 The first commercial viewing of the peephole kinetoscope is held by the Holland Brothers at 1155 Broadway, New York City.
Apr Alfred O. Tate resigns as Edison's private secretary.
Aug 21 The North American Phonograph Company enters receivership; Newark attorney John R. Hardin is appointed receiver.
Oct 17 The first foreign kinetoscope parlor opens in London, England.
Dec. Closes the Ogden plant for repairs and design modifications.
top 1895
Continues to spend much of his time at the Ogden plant.
Continues to sell blocks of his General Electric stock and railroad bonds.
Apr William K. L. Dickson resigns his position at the West Orange laboratory.
Summer Experiments in the mass production of iron ore briquettes suitable for shipping and use in blast furnaces; development continues through early 1897.
Oct 1 Marion E. Edison marries Oscar Oeser in Dresden, Germany.
Renews contractual relations with the General Electric Company for research on improvements in electric lighting.
Oct 18 The Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York rejects Edison's claim, based on an 1885 contract, for a bonus payment of $100,000 due to the success of the company's electric lighting business.
Oct Resumes work on squirted cellulose lamp filaments.
top 1896
  Continues to spend much of his time at the Ogden plant.
Jan 15 Reaches a preliminary agreement with Thomas Armat for the Edison Manufacturing Company to produce and market Armat's phantoscope as the Edison vitascope.
Jan 27 Organizes the National Phonograph Company.
Jan Begins experimenting with x-rays.
Feb 26 Edison's father, Samuel, dies in Norwalk, Ohio. Edison attends the funeral.
late Mar Sends a completed x-ray fluoroscope to Columbia University physicist Michael Pupin.
Mar-July Closes the Ogden plant for modifications.
Apr 23 The Edison vitascope has its commercial debut at Koster and Bial's Music Hall, New York City.
Apr Tests his gold ore separation process on placer samples sent from the Ortiz mine in New Mexico.
May-July Exhibitions of the vitascope are held across the United States.
mid Aug Attends the meeting of the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies held in Brooklyn, New York, on August 11-13. Henry Ford, who also attends, later recalls meeting Edison there.
Nov Introduces the Edison Home Phonograph, an inexpensive, spring motor driven phonograph.
Dec Travels to the Crane Iron Works in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, to observe test runs of pig iron produced from his iron ore briquettes.
top 1897
  Continues to spend much of his time at the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works plant in Ogden.
June Prepares a summary of separation tests and ore assays for gold placer samples from the Ortiz mine, along with cost estimates for the construction and operation of an ore separation mill at the site.
July 16 Executes a patent application (U.S. Pat. 644,746) for the three-high crushing rolls in his ore milling process.
Aug James H. White of the Edison Manufacturing Company embarks on a ten-month international tour to produce film subjects; over 130 subjects are copyrighted.
Summer The Ogden plant is again closed for repairs and modifications.
Nov 30 Edison's own motion picture projector, the projectoscope or projecting kinetoscope, has its first commercial exhibition.
Dec Begins a series of lawsuits alleging patent infringement by his competitors in the motion picture industry, including the International Film Company, Maguire & Baucus, Ltd., the American Mutoscope Company, Benjamin F. Keith, and Sigmund Lubin.
top 1898
  Continues to travel between his West Orange laboratory and his ore milling plant at Ogden.
Jan Leases placer tracts near the Ortiz mine.
July 8 Mina Miller Edison's brother, Theodore, dies from wounds received during fighting in the Spanish-American War.
July 10 Edison's fourth son is born; is named Theodore Miller Edison after Mina Edison's brother.
Dec 20 Shuts down his ore milling plant at Ogden; plans to repair the machinery, build additional employee housing, and start up the mill in the spring.
Dec Prepares to visit Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley region to observe Portland Cement plants.
top 1899
Jan Designs a long rotary kiln for making cement.
Feb 17 Edison's father-in-law, Lewis Miller, dies. Edison attends his funeral in Akron, Ohio.
Feb 19 Edison's eldest son, Thomas A. Edison, Jr., and Marie Louise Toohey are married in the Roman Catholic Church, two days after announcing that they had secretly married in November. After living together less than two years, they separate.
Feb 22 Edison's longtime associate John Kruesi dies.
Mar 14 Signs an agreement with Thomas Crahan of the Klondike Exposition Company to obtain motion pictures of the Alaska gold fields.
Mar Begins building a full-scale model of a section of his long rotary kiln.
Apr 15 Organizes the Edison Portland Cement Company.
Summer Begins experimental work on storage batteries.
Builds a one-sixth scale model of the cement works.
Nov Edison's second son, William Leslie Edison, marries Blanche F. Travers against his father's wishes.
top 1900
Jan 31 Edison's sister Marion Edison Page dies. Edison plans to attend her funeral in Milan, Ohio.
Mar Vacations with his family in Florida
June 16 Executes a patent application on a method of mass-producing cylinder phonograph records.
Aug Completes construction of a full-size long kiln for making cement. Later the kiln is removed from the West Orange laboratory and rebuilt at the Edison Portland Cement Company works in Stewartsville, New Jersey.
Summer Edison's experimental mill for the concentration of gold ore begins testing at the Ortiz Mine in Dolores, New Mexico.
Sep Suspends operations at the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works, citing the poor market for iron.
Nov 1 Shuts down the experimental mill at the Ortiz Mine, later blaming his lack of success on poor quality ore.
top 1901
Winter Supervises construction of the Edison Portland Cement Company works at Stewartsville, New Jersey, using some equipment from the nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works.
Feb 15 Authorizes Herman E. Dick to negotiate abroad for the formation of companies to manufacture and sell storage batteries.
mid Feb Opens a motion picture studio at 41 East Twenty-first Street in Manhattan.
Feb 27 Begins vacation with his family in Fort Myers, Florida, and visits his winter home, Seminole Lodge, for the first time since 1887. Thereafter, takes frequent winter vacations in Fort Myers.
May 14 Receives threatening letters demanding $25,000 in gold, "or we will kidnap your child." Hires Pinkerton detectives and the plot is foiled.
May 27 Organizes the Edison Storage Battery Company.
June Advertises in mining publications for information on dry placer mines that might benefit from his gold ore separation process.
July 17 Sells granted and pending battery patents to the Edison Storage Battery Company for $999,000 of its $1,000,000 issued stock.
July 26 Begins a six-week tour of upstate New York and Canada. Visits Niagara Falls and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo with his family before traveling by ship across the Great Lakes to Sudbury, Ontario, with his wife Mina Miller Edison.
top 1902
Jan Introduces "moulded" records commercially.
Apr 25 The Dunderland Iron Ore Company, Ltd., is organized by the Edison Ore Milling Syndicate, Ltd., to exploit Edison's ore processing technology in Norway.
May 2 The Mining Exploration Company of New Jersey is incorporated to find and develop a supply of nickel for use in Edison's storage battery.
May 9 Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) visits the West Orange laboratory.
May Successfully conducts the first road tests of electric vehicles equipped with Edison storage batteries.
Aug Begins commercial production of cement at his mill in Stewartsville.
Oct 23 Nominally becomes a technical advisor to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America and assigns U.S. Pat. 465,971 to the company.
Dec 6 Thomas A. Edison, Jr., sells the right to use his own name to the Thomas A. Edison, Jr., Chemical Company, makers of a patent-medical device called the "magno-electric vitalizer."
top 1903
Jan Initiates production of his "E" type alkaline storage battery.
Mar 2 An explosion at the Edison Portland Cement Company's coal grinding plant results in the death of eight workers, including chief engineer Edward A. Darling.
June 8 Signs an agreement with his son Thomas A. Edison, Jr., whereby the younger Edison will not use his own name in any business enterprise in exchange for a weekly allowance of $35.
Sep–Oct Newspapers report continuing labor unrest at the Edison works in Stewartsville and West Orange.
Nov 26 Edison's attorney Judge Howard W. Hayes dies. Shortly afterwards, the Legal Department is established, with Frank L. Dyer as general counsel, to manage the legal concerns of Edison, his laboratory, and his companies.
Dec 10 Writes to President Theodore Roosevelt in an effort to influence the U.S. Patent Office in its judgment on the relative merits of storage battery patents by Edison and Ernest Waldemar Jungner of Sweden. The Jungner patent is eventually declared invalid.
Dec The Edison Manufacturing Company releases its hit film The Great Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S. Porter.
top 1904
Feb 10 Dismisses chemist Martin A. Rosanoff, effective March 2, declaring that he is "the last foreigner in the chemical line that I shall hire. I prefer bright young Americans."
Apr The Edison Manufacturing Company crew films re-enactments of the Russo-Japanese war for exhibition in the United States.
Sep 30 Authorizes longtime associate Sigmund Bergmann to organize a corporation for the manufacture of storage batteries in Germany; nominally becomes a director of the Deutsche Edison Akkumulatoren Gesellschaft in April 1905.
Oct 2 Laboratory employee Clarence M. Dally dies as the result of radiation burns sustained during x-ray experiments.
Nov 1 Suspends the manufacture of his alkaline storage battery in order to investigate the loss of electrical capacity and leaking cans.
top 1905
Jan 23 Undergoes an ear operation to remove or drain a mastoidal abscess.
Winter Forgoes his annual vacation in Florida because of work on the storage battery.
Mar 7 J. P. Morgan, Jr., visits the laboratory to discuss Edison's improved storage battery and the formation of European companies for its manufacture.
Summer Begins a series of experiments using perforated tubes holding nickel flake as the positive electrode in his storage batteries. Tests continue for a decade.
Sep Sends form letters to telegraph operators across the United States seeking information about possible deposits of cobalt ore for use in his storage battery.
top 1906
Jan 25 Wins a thirty-year lawsuit against Jay Gould's Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company for infringement of his automatic telegraph patents; receives only one dollar in damages. The decision is reversed on appeal by both parties in February 1911.
Feb 17 Marie Louise Toohey Edison dies; Edison pays for the funeral and the obituary in the New York Herald.
Mar 26 Buys a farm in Burlington, New Jersey, for his son Thomas A. Edison, Jr., who has recently been released from a sanitarium for the treatment of alcoholism.
May Travels by car through North Carolina and other southern states prospecting for deposits of cobalt ore.
July 7 Thomas A. Edison, Jr., marries Beatrice Heyzer Montgomery with whom he has been living under the assumed names of Burton and Beatrice Willard.
Oct Conceives and announces a plan to develop molds whereby an entire house can be made of poured concrete.
top 1907
Feb 11 Announces his intention to "give up the commercial end and work in my laboratory as a scientist."
Mar 5 The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals finds for Edison in Thomas A. Edison v. American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, affirming the validity of his reissued camera patent and increasing his control of American film production.
July Transfers the production of motion pictures from the Manhattan studio to a newly constructed studio in the Bronx.
Sep 16 The National Phonograph Company opens new offices in New York City at 10 Fifth Avenue, eight blocks south of its new recording studio in the Knickerbocker Building at Fifth Avenue and 16th Street.
Sep 27 Sends instructions to shut down the Darby Mine in Ontario, Canada, because he has recently "dropped cobalt entirely" for his storage battery.
top 1908
Jan 8 Signs a cross-licensing agreement with the North American Portland Cement Company for mutual use of important cement patents.
Jan 17 The Edison Business Phonograph Company is incorporated.
Feb 17 Private secretary John F. Randolph dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound; he is succeeded by Harry F. Miller.
Feb 23 Enters Manhattan Eye Ear & Throat Hospital and has two additional operations on his left ear; remains in hospital until March 10.
Mar Charles L. Brasseur is hired to conduct experiments on color photography for motion pictures.
July 23 Frank L. Dyer succeeds William E. Gilmore as Edison's chief executive officer.
Aug Vacations with members of his family in the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies.
Sep 1 Takes control of the Lansden Company, a manufacturer of electric vehicles using Edison storage batteries.
Oct 1 Introduces Amberol cylinder records. With approximately 200 threads each, these records increase playing time from two to four minutes.
Nov 16 Frank L. Dyer hires a personal attendant for Edison to "safeguard him from possible cranks and other people who might annoy him."
Dec Agreement achieved among motion picture manufacturers results in the organization of the Motion Picture Patents Company.
top 1909
Feb Agrees to pay Jonas W. Aylsworth $25,000 and Walter H. Miller $10,000 if they can develop a 400-thread cylinder record. By previous agreement Aylsworth receives $35,000 and Miller $10,000 for their development of the 200-thread record.
Agrees to loan his son William Leslie Edison $150 to move to a house in the country.
Apr Receives a gold medal from the Royal Academy of Sciences in Sweden for his inventions in connection with the phonograph and the incandescent light.
June Dictates personal reminiscences to Thomas C. Martin in order to provide additional material for Edison: His Life and Inventions (1910), the authorized biography prepared by Martin, Frank L. Dyer, and William H. Meadowcroft.
July 1 Begins commercial manufacture of his new "A" type alkaline storage batteries.
Nov 10 Dismisses motion picture director Edwin S. Porter.
Dec Begins to develop a disc record and phonograph.
top 1910
Jan 1 Edison's former associate and longtime friend Charles Batchelor dies.
Jan Plans to establish an Engineering Department at the West Orange laboratory in order to centralize research and development for the numerous Edison companies.
Feb 11 Jonas W. Aylsworth executes a patent application for Condensite, a phenolic resin that is subsequently used in Edison disc records.
Mar A streetcar powered by Edison storage batteries begins operation on a crosstown line in New York City; the car is designed by Ralph H. Beach of the Federal Storage Battery Car Company with input from Edison.
John H. Powrie and Florence M. Warner are brought to West Orange to demonstrate and improve their method of color photography. Edison's previous arrangement with Charles L. Brasseur is discontinued.
May Exhibits a scale model of his poured concrete house at the Real Estate and Ideal Homes Exhibit at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Continues to receive international attention for his idea.
July 18 Arranges with Miller Reese Hutchison to develop storage batteries for use in submarines.
Aug 26 Demonstrates his kinetophone or "speaking pictures" to members of the press at the West Orange laboratory.
Sep 17 Two electric vehicles equipped with Edison storage batteries leave New York on a promotional "ideal tour," ending with an ascent of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.
Oct Receives national attention after making statements to the press revealing his unorthodox religious beliefs, including his skepticism regarding the existence of an immortal soul.
Nov Donates $25 toward a memorial to the Comte de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, whose novel L'Eve Future (1886) includes a fictional Edison.
top 1911
Jan Speaks about the immorality of the soul in a controversial interview in The Columbian Magazine.
Feb 28 The National Phonograph Co. is reorganized and incorporated as Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
July 18 Executes a patent application, which he ultimately abandons, for concrete furniture.
Aug-Sep Tours Europe with his wife, Mina, and their children, Charles, Madeleine, and Theodore.
Nov 11 Makes Miller Reese Hutchison his personal representative at the West Orange laboratory.
Dec 30 Executes a successful patent application for a small-capacity storage battery suitable for portable lamps; the battery will subsequently be used in his miner's safety lamp.
top 1912
May 20 Executes a successful patent application for an automobile starter motor and battery.
Aug 12 Appoints Miller Reese Hutchison chief engineer of the West Orange laboratory, replacing Donald Bliss.
Aug 16 The U.S. Department of Justice initiates an anti-trust suit against the Motion Picture Patents Co.
c. Sep 11 Along with six employees, begins an intensive campaign to perfect the process for the mass production of disc records; the group works night and day for five weeks and becomes known as the "Insomnia Squad."
Sep 19 Announces his support for Progressive party candidate Theodore Roosevelt in the upcoming presidential election and comes out in favor of women's suffrage.
Oct 7 Begins shipment of Blue Amberol cylinder machines and records to phonograph dealers.
Oct The disc phonograph is exhibited at the Boston Electric Show; by the end of the year, it is being marketed throughout the United States.
Nov 9 Frank Dyer resigns as president of Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; Edison subsequently assumes the presidency of his company and remains in that position until 1926.
Nov 29 Signs an agreement with Henry Ford for a loan of $500,000 to construct a new factory to manufacture storage batteries for Ford automobiles; over the next two and one half years, Ford lends Edison $1,200,000.
Nov Begins marketing the home projecting kinetoscope.
top 1913
Jan 23 Is awarded the Rathenau Medal by the American Museum of Safety for the development of a non-sparking, battery-powered safety lamp for use in mines and other enclosed spaces.
Feb 17 Introduces talking pictures to American theatergoers by attending a performance of his Kinetophone (a phonograph connected by pulleys to a film projector) at the Colonial Theater in New York City. For the next several months, talking movies play in cities across North America. They are later introduced to South America, Europe, and Asia. Although initially enthusiastic, audiences soon lose interest because of problems in synchronization and sound quality.
May Is named "most useful" man in America by a survey of readers of Independent magazine.
top 1914
Feb 23-Apr 17 Vacations in Fort Myers, Florida, with the Ford family and John Burroughs; explores the Everglades and later remembers this excursion as his first camping trip with Ford and Burroughs.
May 12 Inspired by Henry Ford's anti-cigarette campaign, bans cigarettes from all his plants, although he continues to smoke cigars and chew tobacco; subsequently engages in a newspaper debate with Percival S. Hill of the American Tobacco Co. regarding the merits of cigarette smoking.
Sep 8 Five weeks after the outbreak of war in Europe, announces the erection of a plant for the manufacture of phenol and other chemicals now in short supply. Known as Phenol Plant No. 1, it is the first of five chemical plants constructed at Silver Lake, N.J., during the war and the only one owned by Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
Fall Announces the commercial introduction of the telescribe -- a combination telephone and phonograph that permits the recording of both sides of a telephone conversation.
Dec 9 An explosion in the Film Inspection Building triggers a conflagration that destroys or damages more than half of the buildings in the West Orange laboratory complex.
top 1915
Mar 1 Announces his new divisional policy for Thomas A. Edison, Inc. Three days later, Steven B. Mambert is named efficiency engineer in charge of implementing the policy.
July 7 Is invited by U.S. Secretary of Navy Josephus Daniels to head the Naval Consulting Board; meets with Daniels later in the month and accepts the offer.
Aug 9 Begins a series of nationwide "tone tests," during which recording artists alternate their live performance on a darkened stage with Edison Diamond Disc recordings and challenge audiences to detect the difference.
Oct 14 Along with Mina Miller Edison, departs by train for California to attend events in his honor at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Meets Luther Burbank for the first time and visits the exhibits with Henry Ford. Visits Los Angeles and San Diego before departing for the East Coast on November 1.
top 1916
Jan 15 Learns of an explosion aboard the U.S. Navy's E-2 submarine in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The accident, which kills five men and injures ten others, is attributed to the hydrogen gas emitted by the Edison batteries installed a few weeks earlier.
Mar 3 Stephen B. Mambert is elected vice president and financial executive by the Board of Directors of Thomas Edison, Inc. one day after the resignations of secretary-treasurer Ernest Berggren and assistant general manager Harry T. Leeming are announced to the press.
Mar 15 Testifies before the Naval Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in favor of an appropriation of $1.5 million for a naval research laboratory.
May 10 Comes out in support of Theodore Roosevelt for president; subsequently endorses Woodrow Wilson after Roosevelt fails to win the Republican nomination.
June 12 Charles Edison is elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; he is subsequently also elected chairman of the Edison Storage Battery Co.
Aug 28 Leaves West Orange for a camping trip in the Adirondack and Berkshire mountains with Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs. They are joined by Henry Ford in Plattsburgh, N.Y., on September 6.
Dec 9 Presents a minority report in favor of Sandy Hook, New Jersey as the site of the naval research laboratory after the Naval Consulting Board Committee on Sites reports in favor of Annapolis.
top 1917
Feb 8 Two months before the entry of the United States into World War I, begins devoting nearly all of his time to experiments for the U.S. government in a laboratory established in a large casino on Eagle Rock Mountain in West Orange. Over the next two years, devises more than forty inventions, including methods for detecting submarines, torpedoes, and airplanes; blinding submarines and periscopes; and camouflaging ships.
Apr 9 U.S. Supreme Court decides against Edison in Motion Picture Patents Company v. Universal Film Manufacturing Company, making the Motion Picture Patents Company's licensing agreements illegal.
Aug 21-Oct 6 Spends six weeks on Long Island Sound conducting experiments aboard the USS Sachem.
Oct 9 Departs for Washington, D.C.; sets up an office in the Navy Annex in a room once occupied by Admiral George Dewey, where he remains until the end of January. Research operations on Long Island Sound continue until early December.
top 1918
Jan 28 Leaves Washington with Mina Miller Edison for Key West, where they stay at the U.S. Naval Station in a house provided by Commandant Frederick A. Traut. Conducts research there until the end of April.
Mar 30 Ends his involvement in the motion picture business by selling his studio in the Bronx to the Lincoln & Parker Film Co. Subsequently re-acquires his motion picture assets after Lincoln & Parker declare bankruptcy and sells them to producer Robert L. Giffen in October 1919.
July 6 Miller Reese Hutchison resigns as chief engineer of the West Orange laboratory and is succeeded by John P. Constable, a friend and former MIT classmate of Charles Edison.
Aug 16 Begins a two-week camping trip in the Shenandoah Valley and Great Smoky Mountains with John Burroughs, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford.
top 1919
Jan 2 Charles Edison becomes vice president and general manager of Thomas A. Edison, Inc. following the resignation of Carl H. Wilson.
Apr 11 Comes out in support of President Woodrow Wilson's plan for a League of Nations.
Aug 3 Leaves West Orange for a camping trip in the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire with John Burroughs, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone; is back in West Orange by the end of the month.
Sep 15 Begins a campaign to produce a starter battery for Ford automobiles.
Nov 13 Sends the Department of the Navy his "final bill" for the cost of experimental work, thus ending his involvement in military research.
top 1920
Oct In the wake of the postwar economic downturn, initiates an "economy campaign" that leads to the dismissal or resignation of several top managers and a drastic reduction in the manufacturing labor force.
top 1921
Jan 25 Resigns from Naval Consulting Board following a prolonged debate over the location and mission of the proposed naval research laboratory.
July Takes a camping trip in Maryland with Harvey Firestone and President Warren G. Harding.
top 1922
May Outlines a plan for reforming the monetary system by extending credit to farmers based on the cash value of their crops.
June Is awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Rutgers University.
top 1923
Aug 1 Along with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, attends the funeral of President Warren G. Harding in Marion, Ohio. With his wife Mina, vacations in Canada and visits with the Ford family in Detroit until the end of the month.
top 1924
Aug 28 Consolidates the Edison Phonograph Works into Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
top 1926
Feb 1 Sells all of his domestic and foreign patents to Thomas A. Edison, Inc. for $78,200.59 in cash.
Aug 2 Steps down as president of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., in favor of his son Charles; becomes chairman of the board.
Oct 26 Introduces long-playing disc records in an effort to salvage his declining phonograph business. Also begins offering attachments so that his phonographs can play the laterally-cut records of his competitors.
top 1927
July Organizes the Edison Botanic Research Corporation to develop a process for producing rubber from plant substances native to the United States.
top 1928
Apr Reluctantly agrees to Charles Edison's suggestion that the company enter the radio business. Takes control of the Splitdorf-Bethlehem Electrical Co. of Newark.
Oct 20 Receives a special Congressional Medal for "illuminating the path of progress through the development and application of inventions that have revolutionized civilization in the last century." The award is presented by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon at a ceremony broadcast to thirty million radio listeners.
top 1929
Feb 11 Celebrates his eighty-second birthday at Fort Myers with President-elect Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone.
July 28 Forty-nine finalists participate in the competition for the first Edison Scholarship Contest. Wilber B. Huston, the son of the Episcopalian Bishop of Seattle, is named the winner.
Oct 21 Attends the opening and dedication of Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, intended to coincide with the Golden Jubilee (fiftieth anniversary) of the invention of the incandescent light. President Herbert Hoover and more than five hundred invited dignitaries also attend.
Oct 28 Stops production of phonograph records; shifts production emphasis from phonographs to radios.
top 1931
Jan 6 Executes his last patent application.
Oct 18 Dies at Glenmont.