Edison Wins His First Patent
June 1, 1869
Thomas A. Edison wins his first of more than 1,000 patents on this day for an electric voting machine. With little formal schooling, the 22-year-old inventor designs the battery-powered machine for legislative bodies such as Congress. Edison’s machine (for which he receives patent no. 90,646) records yes and no votes when a user flicks a switch, and quickly records and tabulates results on paper. By 1892, the invention gets its first public use in a Lockport, N.Y., town meeting.
By then, of course, Edison is on to other things: the incandescent lamp, the electric railroad, electric lighting systems, and power distribution systems and plants. Later his inventions provide the early tools on which the recorded music and film industries transmit their sounds and images to mass audiences.