Edison Quotes

Out of the mouth of an inventor, Thomas Edison's quotes

Edison Quotes
Edison Quotes. Mary Bellis

Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor born on February 11, 1847. Edison is one of the best known inventors in American history, who invented: an improved light bulb, electrical power systems, the phonograph, motion picture cameras and projectors, and more.

On Failure

While Edison has always been thought of as an extremely successful inventor, he has always reminded us in his quotes that failure and dealing with failure in a positive way has always been a reality for all inventors.

How an inventor deals with the inevitable failures that happen along the way, can make or break their path to success. The second Edison quote in this section refers directly to Edison's striving to invent the first practical light bulb. Edison literally had thousands of failures before he invented a light bulb that succeeded.

  • "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
  • "I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work."
  • "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time."
  • "Negative results are just what I want. They're just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don't."
  • "Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless."
  • "Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don't work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they'll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they'll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they've got it half right, because eventually they do wake up."
  • "Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure."

The Value of Hard Work

During his lifetime, Thomas Edison patented 1,093 inventions, making him both a prolific and hard-working inventor. Edison often worked twenty hour days, however, the following Edison quote reveals how he truly felt about his own hard work, ""I never did a day's work in my life, it was all fun." Edison enjoyed every minute of his own hard work.

  • "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
  • "The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary."
  • "We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work."
  • "If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves."
  • "The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense."
  • "Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing."
  • “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Philosophical Musings

Much of who Edison was a person can be attributed to his relationship with his mother. As a child Edison was considered slow by his teachers, however, his mother was very diligent about Edison's education and home-schooled him when his public school teachers had given up on him. She taught her son more than just facts and numbers, she taught him how to learn and how to be a critical, independent, and creative thinker.

  • "There are no rules here, we're trying to accomplish something."
  • "When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this, you haven't."
  • "What you are will show in what you do."
  • “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
  • “I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.”
  • “Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.”

For Future Generations

The Edison quotes in this section are practical, profound, and even prophetic.

  • "We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy--sun, wind and tide. I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."
  • "The most necessary task of civilization is to teach people how to think. It should be the primary purpose of our public schools. The mind of a child is naturally active, it develops through exercise. Give a child plenty of exercise, for body and brain. The trouble with our way of educating is that it does not give elasticity to the mind. It casts the brain into a mold. It insists that the child must accept. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning, and it lays more stress on memory than observation."
  • "The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
  • "Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."
  • “I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill.”
  • "There will one day spring from the brain of science a machine or force so fearful in its potentialities, so absolutely terrifying, that even man, the fighter, who will dare torture and death in order to inflict torture and death, will be appalled, and so abandon war forever."