Thomas Edison, whose name has become symbolic of inventive creativity, did not attend college. Edison's formal schooling was extremely brief, lasting only two periods and less than a year, but his mother taught him to read at home. His father also possessed a home library and encouraged his son to read. This inspired Edison to educate himself and become an entrepreneur.
Edison, who was born in Milan, Ohio, in 1847, was an exceptionally curious boy growing up in an intellectually stimulating environment. He also benefited from his parents' influence and support. His father was a free thinker with an entrepreneurial spirit and his mother is believed to have been a former schoolteacher. Edison's own entrepreneurial streak began during the American Civil War when, as a teenager, he became successful at selling newspapers on trains.
During daily train layovers, he continued his self-education by studying at the Detroit Public Library. He learned telegraphy at the age of 15 and soon became an expert telegrapher. Edison began his career as a prolific and celebrated inventor by developing improved devices for the telegraph field. He went on to obtain more than 1,000 United States patents in his name, and created what is considered the first industrial laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J.