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Turner Bill to Designate Thomas Edison as the State Inventor Clears Committee

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 State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.

“This bill recognizes the initiative of a group of fourth grade girls at Stony Brook Elementary School in Hopewell,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer).  “It was Rory, Zoe, Dylan and Emma who proposed that Mr. Edison be named NJ’s state inventor.  After researching his achievements as part of a school project on the legislative process, and at the prompting of their teacher, Sarah Marion, they wrote a compelling letter making their case for him.  Children should know that even at a young age, they can make a difference.”

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.

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.

“Mr. Edison has been synonymous with New Jersey and inventions for over a century,” said Senator Turner. “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.”

The bill, S-1857, cleared committee by a vote of 4-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.