Thomas Edison Didn't Actually Invent The Lightbulb. Here's Why

Thomas Edison is often described as one of the most famous inventors in history. Born in Ohio on February 11, 1847, Edison acquired over 1,000 patents, including for the invention of the light bulb, the phonograph, and the first motion picture cameras, according to History. Edison was also a successful manufacturer who sold many of his inventions directly to the public.

In 1862, Edison saved a boy who was about to be hit by a boxcar. The father felt grateful and decided to teach Edison railroad telegraphy, and Edison started to work a few months later while he was doing scientific experiments (via Library of Congress). According to National Park Service, his first great invention was the tin foil phonograph, which made him famous all over the globe. He became known as the "Wizard of Menlo Park." Edison was also invited to make a presentation of his phonograph in the White House in 1878.

Edison was a businessman ahead of his time, and he knew how to use the media in his favor. According to The Conversation, Edison knew that newspapers could help him sell more products, and he often aimed to be in the headlines.

Thomas Edison didn't invent the light bulb

Edison might have held the patents for many inventions, but he didn't invent all of them alone. According to Ernest Freeberg, author of "The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America," the light bulb was not invented by Edison. Freeberg explained in an interview that invention was "a very complex social process. He was in a very competitive race where he borrowed — some said stole — ideas from other inventors who were also working on the incandescent bulb" (via U.S. News and World Report). The author adds that what made Edison successful was that he was not a solo inventor, but he created an inventor team at Menlo Park.

Although Edison created and utilized a team of inventors, he wasn't a fraud. According to The Conversation, Edison changed the approach of invention and made it a competitive business. Besides an inventor, Edison was also an ambitious businessman who not only helped develop motion pictures, but engaged in lengthy legal battles with other movie producers over patents and technology (per Library of Congress).