The Wizard of Menlo park The world owes a great deal of gratitude to Thomas Alva Edison — and that includes the hvacr industry.

Others before him had worked on electric lighting, and some streets, department stores, and other locations had arc lighting installed in the late nineteenth century. The intense brightness of arc lights made them suitable for lighting big, open spaces, but they did not lend themselves to small interior spaces. It was Edison who provided a safer, less expensive lighting system with the invention of the incandescent light bulb.

Because of the success of this new light, in 1882 Edison went on to improve the light bulbs and the dynamos that generate electric current. On Sept. 4, 1882, the Pearl Street Station in New York City, the site of the first large central power station, went into service. The development of the large power station made it possible for homes and businesses to be wired for electricity. This then opened up the market for electrical appliances, such as the mechanical refrigerator.

On the front page of the Oct. 21, 1931 News ran the following article:


West Orange, NJ — Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the incandescent lighting system and the greatest electric genius the world has ever known, died at his Hilltop estate, here, early Sunday morning, Oct. 18, at the age of 84.

The aged inventor’s death followed an illness of several weeks’ duration, which had followed upon a sudden collapse Aug. 1. Mr. Edison had never fully regained his health from an attack of pneumonia which he suffered two years ago.

News of the inventor’s death almost instantly circled the globe by telephone and telegraph system, part of the industry valued at $15,000,000 to which he had contributed major inventions.

Hundreds of government officials, leaders in industry, and foreign dignitaries, as well as thousands of townspeople and citizens passed by his bier in the library of his laboratory, where many of his inventions were created.

Edison considered the inventions that underlie the electric light and power industry the most important of his works.

Gerard Swope, president of General Electric Co., upon receiving the news of Edison’s death, said:

“It is difficult to express an appreciation of the significance to mankind. His has been a long life full of many inventions and great achievements, not only to his own generation, but to many generations to come.”

According to one source, in order to pay tribute to Edison, electric lights in the United States were dimmed for one minute on October 21, 1931, a few days after his death.

Publication date: 10/22/2001