Meet the Mothers Who Inspired Their Inventor Children
Some of history’s most respected inventors credit their mothers with their success.
In honor of Mother's Day, let's look at three notable examples.
As a young lad, Thomas Alva Edison performed poorly in school. He was unable to memorize lessons, and required hands-on experience in order to learn. The boy also asked lots of questions, endlessly frustrating his teachers.
When Thomas was seven years old, his teacher called him “addled,” which enraged him, and he stormed out of schoolhouse. The next day he returned with his mother in tow. Unable to reconcile the situation, and convinced of her son’s remarkable intelligence, Nancy Edison chose to educate her son at home.
As part of his education, Mrs. Edison allowed Thomas to set up his own laboratory in their small basement – despite his father’s concerns about strange smells and various small explosions.
Later in life, Edison explained that his mother “was the making of me.” Because of Nancy Edison, Thomas “felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
Prolific inventor Nikola Tesla credited his mother for sparking his love of electricity.
Georgina Tesla worked tirelessly from dawn till late at night; she was a skilled craftswoman, seamstress and textile artist. Although Mrs. Tesla never received a formal education, she possessed an eidetic memory and was highly resourceful.
In her spare time, she invented various household tools and devices, including a mechanical egg beater.
Nikola always spoke of his mother with reverence and awe, recognizing that she possessed the gift of discovery – a gift she had passed on to him.
The mother of Alexander Graham Bell was almost completely deaf by the time he was 10 years old, relying on an ear trumpet to hear. Young Alexander was so deeply affected by his mother's deafness that he developed two different forms of communicating with her:
A manual finger language by which he sat at her side and silently tapped out coded conversations, and
Speaking close to her forehead so she could feel the vibrations of his voice.
It was Bell's preoccupation with his mother's deafness that led him to study acoustics and experiment with transmitting sound waves over wires.
Despite her deafness, Eliza Bell became an accomplished pianist, which inspired Alexander to undertake significant challenges. She also home-schooled her son, instilling in him an infinite curiosity about the world around him.