Thomas Edison, American inventor, c 1880.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph with Edison's signature. 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.