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Senator Turner discussing a bill on the Senate floor.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner that would designate Thomas Alva Edison as the State Inventor cleared the Senate today.

“Thomas Edison has been synonymous with New Jersey and invention for over a century,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “During a lifetime that was dedicated to true innovation, he was awarded 1,093 U.S. patents and received accolades from across the globe, bringing our state great pride. Designating Mr. Edison as our State Inventor is a well-earned, much-deserved and long-overdue distinction.”

Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who spent more than 50 years of his life residing and inventing in New Jersey.  He first moved to the state in 1870, establishing a facility in Newark and developing many inventions, such as the electric pen, an early version of the copy machine, and the quadruplex telegraph, which allowed the transmission of multiple messages on the same telegraph wire.

Mr. Edison relocated his operations to Menlo Park, where he established a full-scale industrial research laboratory and created one of his most famous inventions, the phonograph.  He continued to experiment with new technology and created one of the first commercially-viable incandescent light bulbs.  Mr. Edison demonstrated his incandescent light bulb by making Christie Street in Menlo Park the first street ever to be lit by incandescent light on New Year’s Eve in 1879.

“We owe the bright and colorful lights of the festive holiday season to Mr. Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb,” added Senator Turner. “What more fitting time to honor him than during the very holiday season that he lit up over a century ago for the first time.”

Mr. Edison eventually left Menlo Park and moved into a much larger facility in West Orange, where he spent the remaining 44 years of his life improving his earlier inventions and creating new inventions, such as the motion picture camera and a suitable storage battery that could power an electric car.

His inventions and laboratory achieved global recognition, eventually earning him the title of “The Wizard of Menlo Park” and attracting visitors from all over the world to Menlo Park.

The bill, S-2771, passed the Senate with a vote of 36-0. It next heads to the Assembly for consideration.