For more than a century now, the United States has been the most inventive nation in the world. And for the past century, the title of greatest—or in any case, most prolific—American inventor was held by Thomas Alva Edison. Most everyone knows that Edison invented the phonograph, the movie camera, and of course the incandescent light bulb, which to this day we still use as an icon to represent a bright new idea. Actually, Edison and his co-inventors came up with scores of different inventions for these things, as well as for better telephones and numerous ways to generate, transmit, and store electricity. They patented early and often. Between 1869 and 1933, Edison racked up an astonishing 1,084 U.S. utility patents, a record for American inventors that held for 82 years. Until now. 

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