According to Life Magazine and several other sources, Thomas Edison was "the most influential figure of the millennium.".
Contrary to what is sometimes assumed, Thomas Edison was not born into poverty in a backwoods mid-western village. He was born, on Feb. 11, 1847, to middle-class parents in the bustling port of Milan, Ohio: a community that, next to Odessa, Russia, was the largest wheat shipping center in the world. In 1854, his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, which was also an up and coming shipping center. .
Not long after young Tom - who was called "Al" in his earliest years - learned to talk, he began pleading with people he met to give him their explanation of how everything worked. If they said they didn't know, he would stare into their face with his deeply set and vibrant blue eyes and ask them "why?".
At age seven - after spending 12 weeks in a one room schoolhouse with 39 other students of all ages - Tom's overworked short tempered teacher lost his patience with the child's persistent questioning and relatively self centered behavior. When the Port Huron school board representative made a routine visit, it was noted that Tom appeared to be somewhat "addled" or mentally unstable.
If modern psychology had existed back then, it is possible that the genuinely hyperactive child would have been deemed a victim of attention deficit syndrome and given a prescription for the "miracle drug" Ritalin. Instead, when his beloved mother - the person Tom once said ".was the making of me because she was the only person who truly understood me" - became aware of the situation, she promptly withdrew him from school and began to home-teach him. .
A descendant of the prominent Elliot family of New England, the daughter of a highly respected minister, and a former educator in her own right, Nancy Edison now commenced teaching Tom, her last and favorite son, the three Rs" and the Bible. His, father, Samuel, encouraged him to read some of the great literary classics, providing him with a ten cents reward for each book he mastered.