Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847,
in Milan, Ohio. He died on October 18, 1931, in
West Orange, New Jersey.
During Alva's life, there were major changes in
transportation. For centuries, cities had been
located along rivers because people were dependent
on the river for transportation. The rivers carried
boats which transported people and goods from
city to city.
In the 1800's, railroads
became a new means of transportation. Railroad
tracks were laid across the United States connecting
cities by land, rather than by water. This was
a faster and more convenient way to travel. Railroads
soon replaced boats which decreased the amount
of business on the rivers.
On May 10, 1869,
the first U.S. transcontinental railroad was completed.
This is a historic day for the United States.
On this day at Promontory Point, Utah, the East
Coast and the West Coast were connected for the
first time by the railroad. Did
you know it was also the first time
the United States was linked by a single mode
Two railroad companies
-- the Union Pacific from the east and the Central
(Southern) Pacific from the west -- laid their
tracks until they met at Promontory Point, Utah.
The Union Pacific started
laying new tracks in Omaha, Nebraska. Although
the Union Pacific had more miles to cover, it
was easier to lay the tracks across the flat plains.
The Central (Southern)
Pacific began laying tracks in Sacramento, California.
The Central (Southern) Pacific's tracks ran through
the tall Sierra Nevada mountains. It was a difficult
task to build the bridges across ravines and canyons
and blast tunnels through the mountains.
American Civil War
In 1861, the United States entered a civil war.
The nation was divided over the issue of slavery.
The American Civil War
ended on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General
Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses
S. Grant in Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
The war lasted four years.
Over 600,000 Americans were killed during this
Scientists, and Industrialists
The 1800's produced great inventors, scientists,
and industrialists. They include Alva, Michael
Faraday, Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell,
George Eastman, Henry Ford, and Guglielmo Marconi.
Michael Faraday was an English physicist and chemist.
He is called the Father of Electricity.
Faraday laid the foundation
for the age of electricity when he discovered
electromagnetic induction and made the first dynamo.
The unit of capacitance
is called a farad, after Faraday.
Samuel Morse was a U.S. inventor. He invented
the telegraph around 1832. The telegraph sends
a message through a wire using bursts of electricity.
Telegraph operators use
a series of dots and dashes to represent letters
and numbers. This system of communication was
invented by Samuel Morse and is called Morse Code.
Graham Bell (1847-1922)
Alexander Graham Bell was a U.S. inventor. On
March 10, 1876, Bell invented the telephone while
trying to find a way to convert voice sounds into
electrical currents. The first words transmitted
by telephone were "Mr. Watson, come here,
I want you." These words were spoken by Bell
to his assistant, Thomas Watson.
The next year, Bell founded
the Bell Telephone Company. In
1915, Bell placed the first transcontinental telephone
conversation to Watson. Bell was in New York,
and Watson was in San Francisco.
George Eastman was a U.S. inventor and industrialist.
He revolutionized photography.
In 1879, Eastman invented
the dry-plate process which reduced the size and
weight of photographic equipment. He also designed
a flexible film which allowed film to be shaped
into a roll of film.
Later, Eastman produced
a box camera called Kodak and founded the Eastman
Henry Ford was a U.S. industrialist. He revolutionized
the automobile industry. Ford founded Ford Motors
and designed the Model T which was the first affordable
car for the common people. This marked the beginning
of the Age of the Automobile.
Five years later, Ford
introduced the moving assembly line to mass produce
Model T cars. This allowed him to make more cars
for less money and increase the workers wages
while decreasing the hours they worked. This led
to the eight hour work day.
Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian physicist. He
invented the wireless telegraph when he was 21
years old. This led him to develop the radio around
1897. Marconi sent the first radio communication
between England and France in 1899, and he sent
the first transatlantic radio signal between England
and Canada in 1901.