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Thomas Edison, Inventor

What would the world be like without the electric light? Recorded music? The motion picture? Thanks to Thomas Edison, we don’t have to find out. Probably the best-known inventor of the 19th century, Edison lived for a while in Louisville.

Born February 11, 1847, Thomas Alva Edison was 19 years old when he came to Louisville as a telegrapher in March 1866. He spent nearly two years here working for Western Union. Edison left Louisville after being fired, following an on-the-job accident stemming from one of his experiments. He never returned to the city ... but he did become a household name, receiving 1,093 patents in his lifetime.

When the Southern Exposition opened in Louisville in 1883, Edison’s incandescent light bulb stole the show. The installation used 4,600 lamps—the world’s largest system at the time—and set a precedent for large expos worldwide to be lighted electrically.

One of the places Edison is believed to have lived during his stint in Louisville is a cottage on East Washington Street, in the Historic Butchertown neighborhood. The Thomas Edison House offers a unique collection of artifacts, programs, and special events celebrating the inventor’s accomplishments.

Program 115
New lives for old Louisville buildings, celebrating Chinese New Year at the Crane House, renovations at the historic U.S. Marine Hospital, and University of Louisville President Jim Ramsey. (#115)