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Thomas Alva Edison
American inventor
(1847-1931)



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Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
-- Edison, 1877, as quoted in From Telegraph to Light Bulb with Thomas Edison by Deborah Hedstrom (2007)

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
-- Edison, c. 1903, as reported in Harper's Monthly (September 1932)

None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.
-- Statement in a 1929 press conference, as quoted in Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh by James D. Newton (1987)

Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.
-- Quoted in Thomas Alva Edison: Sixty Years of an Inventor's Life by Francis Arthur Jones (1908)

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
-- Quoted in An Enemy Called Average by John L. Mason (1990)

Restlessness is discontent — and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man — and I will show you a failure.
-- The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison (1948)

We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything.
-- Quoted in Golden Book (April 1931), according to Stevenson's Book of Quotations, edited by Burton Egbert Stevenson (3rd edition, Cassell, 1938)

I find out what the world needs. Then, I go ahead and invent it.
-- Quoted in American Greats (1999), edited by Robert A. Wilson and Stanley Marcus.

Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.
-- Quoted in Artifacts: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley by Christine Finn (2001)

For most of my life I refused to work at any problem unless its solution seemed to be capable of being put ot commercial use.
-- Interview, New York Sun, February 1917


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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