27 Insightful Quotes by Thomas Edison

Last updated on Feb 10th, 2015

27 Insightful Quotes by Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman.

Born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio, Edison grew up in Port Huron, Michigan, where he attended public school only three months after which his mother who was a school teacher took care of his education.  At the time, Edison developed the process of self-education and self-learning, which helped him a lot during his lifetime.

Edison was one of the most prolific inventors with a total number of 1,093 patents. He has created many great things that are significantly improved life around the world. The most famous are phonograph, telegraph, long-lasting electric light bulb and Kinetograph (one of the earliest motion picture cameras).

In addition to the brilliant inventions, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large teamwork. These two things are the major reason why he is often credited with the creation of the world’s first industrial research laboratory.

Edison’s influence on life in the 20th century was enormous and his fame as an inventor who laid the basis for the technological and social revolution of the modern electric world remains unmatched.


Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing edited by Larry Chang


I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.Edison: His Life and Inventions by Frank Lewis Dyer


Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.As quoted in From Telegraph to Light Bulb with Thomas Edison (2007) by Deborah Hedstrom


There is no substitute for hard work.TIME Magazine Biography (May 25, 1925)


The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.What Men Do by William Marvin Jackson (1925)


To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.As quoted in Behavior-Based Robotics (1998) by Ronald C. Arkin


Genius is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration.Idaho Daily Statesman (May 6 1901)


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.Harper's Magazine (1890)


Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.As quoted in Artifacts: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley (2001) by Christine Finn


If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.As quoted in Motivating Humans: Goals, Emotions, and Personal Agency Beliefs (1992) by Martin E. Ford


I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.National Republic (1931)


Restlessness is discontent — and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man — and I will show you a failure.The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison (1948)


The value of an idea lies in the using of it.Little Journeys to the Homes of Good Men and Great by Elbert Hubbard (1894)


The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison (1948)


Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.Nation Business (1930)


The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around.As quoted in: Ties: The Southern Railway System Magazine, Volumes 8-9 (1954)


I know this world is ruled by infinite intelligence. Everything that surrounds us – everything that exists – proves that there are infinite laws behind it. There can be no denying this fact. It is mathematical in its precision.As quoted in: The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life (1950)


There is far more opportunity than there is ability.The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison (1948)


Anything that won’t sell I don’t want to invent, because anything that won’t sell hasn’t reached the acme of success. Its sale is proof of its utility, and utility is success.Edison and His Phonograph by J. Lewis Young (1890)


Through all the years of experimenting and research, I never once made a discovery. I start where the last man left off. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention pure and simple.Scientific American: Supplement, Volume 59 (1905)


Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.Thomas Alva Edison: Sixty Years of an Inventor's Life (1908) by Francis Arthur Jones


Maturity is often more absurd than youth and very frequently is most unjust to youth.Unknown source


What a man’s mind can create, man’s character can control.As quoted in: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Sep 1980)


Waste is worse than loss. The time is coming when every person who lays claim to ability will keep the question of waste before him constantly. The scope of thrift is limitless.The Book of Thrift by Theodore Douglas MacGregor (1915)


We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.Popular Science (Jun 1930)


I owe my success to the fact that I never had a clock in my workroom. As quoted in: Tech Engineering News, Volumes 13-14 (1932)


The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 83 (1921)