Possibly the best-known New Jersey resident of all time was born on February 11th, 1847, but he was born in Ohio! Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, according to This Day in New Jersey History.

He moved to New Jersey in his 20s, living in the Elizabeth basement of his mentor, Franklin Leonard Pope. He established his famous Menlo Park research facility in 1876 in what is now Edison, obviously named in his honor. Edison, who wound up with over 1,000 patents and was a technological pioneer, is credited with inventing the phonograph (which made him a celebrity), incandescent light, direct current electricity, and the motion picture, among many, many others.

He became known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” and companies he founded still exist such as General Electric which was formed by the merger of the Edison Electric Company and the Thomson-Houston Electric Company. Edison died of complications of diabetes at his home in West Orange in 1931. His last breath was supposedly captured in a test tube and is kept at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit.

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