Bill Gates’ Take on Thomas Edison

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.”

About Lynne Strang

I'm a freelance writer who helps organizations and individuals meet their marketing and communications goals. I am also the author of "Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: Eight Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40." To learn more, please visit my website:
This entry was posted in Business, Career Changes, Careers, entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Retirement, Success and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Bill Gates’ Take on Thomas Edison

  1. I was always in awe that the company my dad worked for, GE, was founded by Edison and another colleague of his, Charles Coffin. I love GE’s motto “Imagination at work” which seems fitting as Edison was one of the founders of the company.

  2. lbstrang says:

    I love that motto as well. Clearly, Edison continues to inspire and influence today’s companies and business leaders. As Bill Gates wrote, “Thomas Edison remains a powerful exemplar of creativity, perseverance and optimism. Even more than light bulbs and movie cameras, that may be his greatest legacy.”

  3. jackkerni says:

    I find that the older the entrepreneur the more perspective and life experience she/he brings with them. The great thing about the business world is that a great idea with enough hard work and perseverance behind it can make regardless of the age of the person who’s pushing that idea.

  4. Edison is a prime example that quitters never win and winners never quit.

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