Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor, early 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Thomas Edison (1847-1931) was a prolific American inventor who registered over 1000 patents, many of which were related to the development of electricity. His inventions, in collaboration with his staff, include the automatic telegraph, the electric lamp, the phonograph (gramophone) and the kinetoscope, an early form of cinematography. Published by the International Telecommunication Union in 1959.