Thomas Edison’s Last Breath

by J-Touchette

Thomas Edison’s last breath is on display at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

One of the greatest inventors of all time, Thomas Edison died October 18, 1931 in New Jersey. Born on February 11, 1847 he was 84 years old.

A famed inventor, he held over 1,000 patents in his name and is credited with having invented the light bulb, the motion picture camera, and electrical motor, among many other things.

As a child, he was home-schooled after the teacher at his local school tired of his constant questions. His mother was an accomplished teacher and she took on the challenge. Edison’s hearing deteriorated from an early age, he was deaf in one ear and 80% deaf in the other, which contributed to his ability to persevere through the tough task of educating himself and becoming a successful inventor in the 19th century.

By age 16, Edison had left home to make his fortune, he had already run his own mini-publishing operation and worked as a telegrapher during the civil war. He made his money while traveling by operating telegraphs wherever he went.

His first patented invention was an automated vote counter that was immediately rejected by politicians who said that the time it took for votes to be manually counted was important to the political process. After that Edison vowed to never make an invention people wouldn’t buy. He received $40,000 for his inventions that improved telegraph machines and from there his career took off.

Thomas Edison died at 9 p.m. on Oct. 18th, 1931 in New Jersey. Shortly before passing away, he awoke from a coma and quietly whispered to his wife Mina, who had been keeping a vigil at his bedside: “It is very beautiful over there.” As he exhaled for the final time, his son Charles captured that breath in a test tube and stoppered it at the request of Henry Ford who had been friends with Edison. Ford never gave any reason for this request although some say he believed that that a person’s soul escaped with the last breath. That breath is still on display at the Henry Ford Museum.

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Thomas Edison | Henry Ford Museum

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