Thomas Edison kept inventing things for a long, long time. Several of his inventions, including the first silent film, occurred when he was in his 50s. He didn’t obtain his last (1,093rd) patent until age 83.
Among Edison’s admirers is Bill Gates, who says the inventor has been an inspiration to him in his own career. The Microsoft chairman penned the foreword for a new book, Edison and the Rise of Innovation, and recently shared what he wrote on his website, The Gates Notes.
In his post, titled “America’s Greatest Inventor,” Gates points out that Edison’s team-oriented work style and practical nature were factors behind his success.
“Edison recognized that inventions rarely come in a single flash of inspiration,” writes Gates. “You set a goal, measure progress using data, see what’s working—and what isn’t working—adjust your plan, and try again.
“This process can be very frustrating because it means running into a lot of dead ends. But each dead end tells you something useful. As Edison famously said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”