Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706, in Boston, Massachusetts. His father’s name was Josiah Franklin and his mother’s name was Abiah Folger. Benjamin was the 15th child of 17 and was the 10th boy. Benjamin went to grammar school from age eight to ten and decided to stop, but read enough books to educate himself. After leaving school he went to work for his dad making candles. He did not like working for his dad so he became a cutler. At age 13 he worked with his brother James, who had recently returned from England with a new printing press. Benjamin learned the printing trade, and in his spare time he concentrated on his education.
In 1721 Benjamin Franklin was 15 and his brother James established the New England Courant, a newspaper. Benjamin was delivering newspapers by day and writing articles at night for his brother. However his brother made him publish these articles anonymously, later at age 17 he got into a fight with his brother and ran away to Philadelphia. He worked in the printing trade and made many friends, one of them was Sir William Keith, who was the governor of Pennsylvania. Keith convinced him to go to London to complete his training as a printer and to purchase the equipment that he needed to start his own printing business in Philadelphia. While in Philly he worked several jobs before he moved to London in 1724. When he got back to Philadelphia he bought the newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1730 he married his wife Deborah Read.
Over the next twenty years Benjamin Franklin made many contributions and did many experiments and projects. In 1731 he founded the first public library in America, and in 1742 established it as the Philadelphia Library. He first published Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1732, under the name Richard Saunders. In 1736 Franklin became clerk of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the next year was appointed deputy postmaster of Philadelphia. Around this time, he organized the first fire company in Philadelphia and introduced methods for the improvement of street paving and lighting. Benjamin was always interested in scientific studies so in 1744, he invented the Franklin stove, which furnished greater heat with a reduced consumption of fuel.
In 1747 Franklin began his electrical experiments with Peter Collinson. He advanced a defensible theory of the Leyden jar, supported the hypothesis that lightning is an electrical phenomenon, and proposed an effective method of demonstrating this fact. This led to his famous kite experiment in 1752. For this experiment he flew a kite in a lightning storm and had a key attached to the string. The kite was struck by lightning and anyone who touched the key got a shock.
From this he invented the lightning rod and offered what is called the “one-fluid” theory in explanation of the two kinds of electricity, positive and negative. He also established the University of Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin helped Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence, got the French to join the colonist and fight the English in the American Revolution. He also invented bifocal glasses. In 1787 Franklin helped others write the Constitution of the United States.
Both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison have many things in common. Both Benjamin and Thomas lived in big families in the United States. Edison lived in a family of seven children and Franklin lived in a family of seventeen children. They both also liked to do experiments which led to many of their inventions. The closest relationship between the two is how they worked in the printing business. Both of the men also worked as delivery boys when they were younger for a newspaper. They also published their own newspapers. Thomas Edison’s paper was called the Grand Trunk Herald and Franklin’s was called the Pennsylvania Gazette. Their greatest accomplishment came when they were working with electricity. Another thing these two great inventors had in common was the age they died which was 84.
Thomas Edison was in Milan, Ohio, on February 11,1847. He went to school for only three months because he asked too many questions and his teachers were whipping him. When Edison was 12 years old he began selling newspapers on the Grand Trunk Railway, using his spare time to experiment with the printing press and with electrical and mechanical apparatus. In 1862 Thomas Edison published a weekly, known as the Grand Trunk Herald, he printed it in a freight car which was also his laboratory. While working as a telegraph operator, Thomas Edison made his first important invention, which was a telegraphic repeating instrument that allowed messages to be transmitted automatically over a second line without an operator. Edison sold his telegraphic appliances, and earned $40,000, so he established his own laboratory in 1876.
In 1877 Edison announced his invention of a phonograph which is also known as a record player. Two years later he introduced the incandescent electric light bulb, which was his most important invention and the one requiring the most careful research and experimentation. In 1882 he developed and installed the world’s first large central electric-power station, which was located in New York City. In 1888 he invented the Kinetoscope which was the first machine to produce motion pictures by a rapid succession. Edison also invented the first alkaline battery, which he called an Edison storage battery. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison were two very interesting people who changed the world and technology for the better.