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Thomas Edison: Telephone, Electricity and Phonograph, 1915

Interesting Pursuits

Edison was in at the beginning of the motion picture industry when he provided the germ of the idea for the camera and kinetoscope viewer and supported his researcher, W.K.L. Dickson, in his experiments. Although they patented 75 simple motion pictures in 1894, it was left to others to advance this new industry.

Among other interests that Edison pursued at this time—some more successful than others—were: a venture to separate iron and gold ore, devising x-ray equipment, manufacturing cement, and building electric storage batteries. The latter were successful with his cement processing patents being licensed by other companies and the batteries finding use in electric vehicles, leading to formation of an international manufacturing company.

In 1907, aged sixty, the father of six and with increasing hearing problems, Thomas Edison announced his decision to leave behind commercial development and devote his time to research.

His retirement plans were partially successful. He did spend more time traveling the country, vacationing at his winter retreat in the village of Fort Myers, Florida, and accepting the many honors given him, but he also found time to work on the manufacture of storage batteries, his most profitable venture of all. He also accepted appointment to head the Naval Consulting Board which was formed in 1915, two years before the United States entered World War I, and he remained in that position until 1921.