Thomas Edison: The 3 Ways He Changed The Worlds Economy

BornFebruary 11th, 1847
DiedOctober 18th, 1931
Famous Quote“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Known ForInventing the light bulb, motion picture camera, and modernizing electric generation/distribution.
Region of WorldUnited States, 19th century.
Further ReadingThe 7 Greatest Early 20th Century U.S Entrepreneurs

Of all the inventors in the world, few have impacted the world’s economy as much as Thomas Alva Edison. Over the course of Edison’s 84-year-long life, he would usher in the industrial revolution in the United States and bring light to households worldwide.

Today we remember Thomas Alva Edison for his 3 major impacts to the world’s economy. First, Edison created the modern lightbulb. Second, Thomas Edison improved communication with a modern telephone design. Third, Edison brought electricity distribution to the world. Each of these inventions drastically changed the world’s economy forever.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 ways that Thomas Edison changed the world’s economy forever.

The Creation of the World’s First Electric Lightbulb

Of the many ways, Thomas Edison changed the world’s economy none is bigger than the creation of the first electric lightbulb.

Thomas Edison did not create the world’s first electric light. 80 years before he filled his patent many inventors were experimenting with glowing wires to illuminate spaces.

However, none of these early inventions would prove practical. The light they emitted was dull and the bulb itself would burn out after only an hour or two.

After hundreds of failed experiments using different products in a glass bulb, Thomas Edison succeeded. In 1879 Thomas Edison discovered that by using a carbon-condensed bamboo filament he could get a bulb that would last for 1200 hours.

This was revolutionary. Before the electric lightbulb, the world’s economy would begin to shut down during nighttime hours. This was because it was simply too expensive to illuminate or heat factories or workplaces at night.

Thomas Edison’s electric lightbulb changed this however. Now the world’s economy could continue uninterrupted 24/7 with the help of artificial electric lights.

An example of this can be seen in the first installation of Electric Light Bulbs in Finland. In March of 1882, the first lightbulbs in the Nordic countries were installed in the Finlayson’s textile factory of Tampere, Finland so that the factory could continue work during the winter months.

Further, Edison’s electric light bulbs allowed the entertainment sector of the economy to explode. Nearly overnight lightbulbs were installed on steamships so nighttime navigation was easier.

The invention of the electric lightbulb was one of the most important economic inventions of all time. Now the world’s economy could stay open later and produce more goods.

The invention of the lightbulb is one of the main ways that Thomas Edison changed the world’s economy.

Thomas Edison Improved Communication With a Modern Telephone Design

Thomas Edison did not invent the telephone, however he did improve the design by adding a carbon ground connection to the microphone.

Before Thomas Edison, it was difficult to hear the other person on the telephone. However, after Thomas Edison added the carbon ground contact the other person became crystal clear.

This drastically changed how the economy would communicate. Nearly overnight telephones started being installed across the major cities of the world. In New York Thomas Edison’s telephone allowed bankers to easily communicate with one another allowing for the world’s financial sector of the economy to explode.

This carbon ground that Thomas Edison invented continued to be used in telephones up until the 1980s when digital transmitters started to replace them.

This demonstrates how important Thomas Edison’s invention was to the world. For the first time, the world’s economy could communicate clearly with each other across vast distances.

Today this impact is taken for granted. We can interact with each other over the internet and telephone to communicate ideas instantly. Business can be conducted from anywhere and at any time.

This was not always the case. It was Thomas Edison that started this change of lightspeed information transfer. As a result, Thomas Edison’s telephone transmitter forever changed the world’s economy.

Thomas Edison Brought Electricity Generation and Distribution to the World’s Economy

One of the main ways that Thomas Edison changed the world’s economy was to bring electricity to the common man across the developed world.

To do this Thomas Edison would have to develop a way to easily get energy from generation plants to factories and households.

In 1880 Thomas Edison patented an early device that would allow for efficient energy distribution over distances. Later that same year Edison would found his Edison Illuminating Company to distribute electricity to households and factories.

Thomas Edison would generate his electricity with steam generation turbines and then distribute it to nearby houses and factories.

In 1882 the Edison Illuminating Company would open the first steam-generating power station in London and brought electricity to street lights, factories, and houses in the financial district of modern London.

This power station served as a prototype for other companies to build off. Over the coming years, many competing companies would start building their own power stations in and around major cities while also improving on Edison’s designs.

This dramatically changed the world’s economy forever. Not only did factories have light bulbs and telephones they now had constant electricity generation. This allowed the big factories in Britain and the United States to continue operating on a nearly 24/7 timeline.

This drastically increased the wealth generation of the world’s economy. Previously factories had to either generate their own electricity or use hand-powered machines and people to build their products.

Thomas Edison changed that by innovating upon existing designs and bringing electricity to the world’s economy. This as a result drastically grew the industrial output of the economy of the world.


There you have it; an entire article that goes over the 3 ways that Thomas Edison changed the world’s economy.

The life of Thomas Edison is a story of a man who never stopped being curious and inventing. As a result, by the time of his death in 1931 Thomas Edison would hold over 1,000 patents in his name.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you liked content like this then feel free to subscribe to the newsletter and share around so that others can grow to love the tales of the past.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below.

Until next time,


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