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Thomas Edison. Portrait of Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, in his chemical laboratory. Edison was a prolific inventor, patenting some 1300 innovations in a variety of technical fields. Despite a lack of formal training Edison had useful instincts for practical chemistry. Edison solved problems by sheer weight of effort; after 8000 failed attempts at producing a battery he said "Well, at least we know eight thousand things that don't work". In 1914 he eventually developed the first alkaline electrical battery. This used a positive electrode of nickel oxide, a negative electrode of iron and potassium hydroxide for the electrolyte.
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