Thomas Edison And Invention Process



Very often people are curious as to whether there is a certain methodology that successful inventors are following that can be adopted by others. In my opinion, one should look no further then Thomas Edison, one of the greatest minds of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries; inventor who gave the world a long-lasting light bulb and phonograph – just a few inventions that revolutionized and modernized our world. In fact, Edison patented 1,093 Inventions in US alone, not counting numerous patents obtained in European countries like Germany, France and England.

Edison And His Methodology

So, what methodology did Thomas Edison follow when he worked on his numerous ideas? Many researchers and bibliographers who studied Edison’s life claim that the famed inventor didn’t use systematic approach while working on his ideas; in fact, many claim that Edison favored the so-called random approach. In my opinion, above mentioned claims are misleading and should be taken with big grain of salt.

Thomas Edison never rushed into conclusions and methodically studied any available literature on the topic he was working. Edison once wrote the following –

“When I want to discover something, I begin by reading up everything that has been done along that line in the past – that’s what all these books in the library are for. I see what has been accomplished at great labor and expense in the past. I gather data of many thousands of experiments as a starting point, and then I make thousands more.”

Respect the Work of Others

One can clearly see that Thomas Edison had the uttermost respect for the researchers who worked before him, either successfully or unsuccessfully. Famed inventor realized early on that his success heavily relied upon work done by others – Edison carefully analyzed facts produced by others, noted their mistakes and learned to avoid these mistakes in the future.

Regarding Trial And Error Approach invention ideas

Edison did use trial and error (or random) method, but in a different context. Once Edison formulated and documented his ideas, inventor used trial and error approach in determining the best materials that should be used in his inventions. In those days, only rudimental research was done on physical and chemical properties of most materials, including gases and metals. Edison had to rely on his own tests and observations in order to produce a list of materials that were strong enough to be used in his inventions.


Edison left us with the idea to not just accept what we have, but with desire and hunger to reach newer heights. Famed inventor lived extraordinary life and managed to make our life better by improving on things that no one thought can be improved. The traits and abilities mentioned below are associated with Edison that helped him to achieve his dream of making our world a better place to live:

– Quickly grasp idea or concept

– Sketch original design and easily draw a diagram of his idea

– See the big picture and not allowing anything to stand on his way to success invention ideas 

– Appreciate work done by others and learn from their mistakes

– Pause and quickly re-analyze his ideas, once critical facts came into light

– Test Inventions under most extreme conditions in order to be sure that they will continue to operate properly

– To Conceiving an idea and work towards achieving it



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