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Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) is often called America’s greatest inventor, holding over 1,000 patents. He is credited with the phonograph, the motion picture camera, the stock ticker, and much of the infrastructure for public electric utilities. Although best known for the incandescent light, his greatest contribution to science may have been his frenzied, but brief period directing work at Menlo Park. Menlo Park was the first one of the first industrial research laboratories, where teamwork and mass production were the catalyst for invention.
Edison’s work did not go unchallenged. Soon after he introduced the incandescent bulb competitors vied for a piece of the lighting market launching Edison on a series of bitter and often lengthy patent battles. In the meantime Edison’s direct current (DC) system fell out of favor, replaced by Westinghouse’s alternating current (AC) system. Edison ultimately left both the lighting business and Menlo Park but his legacy was set.