The Evolution Of 10 Edison Inventions We Still Use Today

Nothing against apps and smartphones, but if you want revolutionary technology, Thomas Edison is the man! Many things we use today were actually the brainchild of Thomas Edison. Check out some of Edison’s patent archive for a peek at his many breakthroughs (and their modern equivalents).

1. Edison’s Electrical Printing Machine…

Juan Manuel / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: 23920588@N08

2. …Became Modern Day Keyboards

Blake Patterson / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: blakespot

After a few iterations of course. Edison patented his Electrical Printing Machine back in 1872, which would eventually give way to the much more ergonomically designed typewriter, which would of course eventually become the basis for computer keyboards we all use today.

3. Edison’s Stencil Pen…

TMAB2003 / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr: tmab2003

4. …Became Tattoo Machines

David Crummey / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: dcrummey

Anyone who has gotten any fresh ink lately has a 135-year-old patent from Edison to thank. Of course, Edison probably didn’t intend for his Stencil Pen to be used on human skin, but rather as a tool for creating instant facsimiles of penned documents.

5. Edison’s Vote Reader…

Ken Zirkel / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: kzirkel

6. …Became Modern Voting Machines

kafka4prez / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: kafka4prez

Voting machines have got from analog, to electric, to analog again, and now they’re digital. It’s been quite an evolution, but where would modern democracy be without Edison’s patent from 1869?

7. Edison’s Phonograph…

Jalal gerald Aro / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: phonogalerie

8. …Became Modern Day Stereo Systems

Tim Geers / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: timypenburg

This is another one that took a few tries to become the product we recognize it as today. Edison’s phonograph became the record player, which gave way to the casette player, the 8-track player, and the CD player, which, finally, became the ubiquitous digital music players we all know and love.

9. Edison’s Speaking Telephone…

zandru / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr: 82754595@N04

10. …Became Modern Day Phones

Johan Larsson / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: johanl

While Edison was not responsible for inventing the telephone, he did help pioneer much of the technology that allowed them to take off. Edison’s patent from 1878 sought to use existing telegraph cables to transmit electric voice data from one place to another, essentially creating the telephone networks we still use to this day.

11. Edison’s Electric Lamp…

Uwe Niederberger / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: xenos-uwe

12. …Became Modern CFL Lightbulbs

Katy Warner / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: sundazed

Edison spent A LOT of time thinking up different ways to make the lightbulb, and 132 years later, we seem to have found a pretty good system. CFL’s save a lot more energy and last a lot longer than the carbon incandescent bulbs Edison was working on.

13. Edison’s Electro Magnetic Railway Engine…

cta web / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr: ctaweb

14. …Became Subways And Regional Trains

Most rapid transit systems, like NYC’s subways, run on electricity instead of fossil fuels like commuter trains. Anyone who has riden on one of these local transit systems has probably heard to avoid the electrified third rail, which provides the train with its power.

15. Edison’s Fruit Preserver…

Brent Moore / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: clairity

16. …Became Vacuum Sealers

Ed G / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr: skazama

Edison experimented quite a bit with vacuum technology. In 1881, he patented a process for removing the air from jars of fruit in order to preserve it. The technology is still used today in the form of vacuum sealers.

17. Edison’s Kinetographic Camera…

andrechinn / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: andrec

18. …Became Motion Picture Cameras

Eva Rinaldi / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr: evarinaldiphotography

Edison was one of several pioneers of the film industry as we know it today. Aside from inventing a way to capture movies, Edison also invented a screen to display them on.

19. Edison’s Vehicle Wheel…

Kool Cats Photography / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: katsrcool

20. …Became the Rubber Tire

The Tire Zoo / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: new_and_used_tires

Before Edison, nobody had really thought to cover their wooden wheels with rubber to improve traction. Edison’s rubber coated wheel was still made out of wood, but it would evolve into the rubber tires we all have have on our bikes and cars today.

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