US Inventors’ Day is established, February 11, 1983

President Ronald Reagan proclaimed February 11, 1983, as the first National Inventors’ Day in the United States in recognition of the enormous contribution inventors make to the nation and the world.

Many other countries have established a National Inventors’ Day, but not always on February 11. Each of those countries has chosen to do so on the birthday of an inventor or engineer celebrated by its nation. In making Proclamation 5013, Reagan chose the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Alva Edison, who was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio. He eventually moved to New Jersey and established the first industrial research lab in Menlo Park.

Although his talents as an inventor are often debated in engineering circles, there are 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as additional patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

After a life that saw him found 14 companies, including what would become General Electric, and receive credit for such breakthrough inventions as the phonograph and practical light bulb, Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931.

In 2012, EDN’s readers named Edison one of the greatest engineers of all time.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on February 11, 2013 and edited on February 11, 2019.

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