Management Hall of Fame
Most Respected Management Gurus

Thomas Edison
General Electric GE - The Business of Invention (1847-1931)

  • "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration" (Thomas Edison)

Key Work

Inventor & Businessman - A Rare Combination

  • Sells newspapers on the Grand Trunk Railway.
  • Works as a telegraph operator; travels across the United States.
  • Patents his first invention, an electric vote recorder.
  • Takes up inventing full time. Starts his first business, making telegraph equipment. 
  • Opens a factory and laboratory - Thus creating the first product research lab 
  • Then develops quadruplex system for the telegraph, Invents the phonograph & develops the first commercially viable electric light bulb.
  • Opens Pearl Street Central Power Station in New York City.
  • Forms Edison General Electric, and invents the Kinetograph (an early motion picture camera).
  • Edison General Electric merges with Thomson-Houston to become General Electric. Edison sells his interest.
  • Invents a nickel-iron-alkaline storage battery.
  • By end of his career he started up or controlled 13 major companies.
  • He is recognize the genius of his times and credited with life changing inventions. By the end of his life Edison had accumulated 1, 093 U.S. and 1, 300 foreign patents.
  • He was also a pragmatic business man who realized the innovation alone was not sufficient
  • He understood the value of intellectual property as an assets and made effective use of to patenting 
  • He understood the importance of entrepreneurship and that commercial success. and that he needed business partner

Books & References:

  • Edison: Inventing the Century. New York: Hyperion, 1999.
  • Josephson, Mathew. Edison: A Biography. New York: John Wiley, 1992.


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