Edison Quick Facts

  • When Edison (1847-1931) was born, he was the youngest of seven children [source: The Thomas Edison Papers].
  • Edison received just three months of formal schooling, getting the bulk of his education from his mother, a former schoolteacher, and from studying in his father's library [sources: Watson, The Thomas Edison Papers].
  • Edison was just 21 when he secured his first patent in 1868 [source: Edison Awards: Industries].
  • Even with all of the patents to his name, Edison also had 500 to 600 unsuccessful or abandoned patent efforts in his lifetime [source: Edison Awards: Industries].

Types of Edison Awards

The American Marketing Association established the Edison Awards in 1987 as a way to applaud the exemplary development and launch of new products and innovations. An independent organization since 2008, the Edison Best New Product Awards have honored some of the most innovative products, services and business leaders in America.

Tying into a historic figure such as Thomas Edison helps emphasize not only precedent-setting thinking, but also the development of lasting contributions. Still today, no other inventor has reached the immense number of patents held by Edison. In addition, his model for industrial research through a laboratory format is still relevant.

Since the awards first launched, they have grown to three varieties -- the Edison Achievement Award, Edison Best New Product Award and Edison Green Award. We'll discuss all three here in brief.

The Edison Achievement Award is reserved for the best-of-the best of the United States' corporate innovators -- individuals who inspire others to similar achievements. Award winners have set themselves apart from the pack via their contributions to society. These lasting contributions are not only groundbreaking, but are also tied to innovations and designs that start with the consumer in mind through people-centered design.

For those companies that have illustrated such performance in bringing a product to market through innovation in the development, marketing and launch of a new offering, there is the Edison Best New Product Award. Winners are granted certain privileges to use the Edison Best New Product Award seal.

The Edison Green Award is greatly tied to those corporations that are looking across their entire brand to build a sustainable, green culture. As such, this particular award links to authentic and environmentally responsible business operations. Through their actions and business practices, winners may improve a community's ability to take care of itself, advance a community's health, decrease their negative impact on the environment and create green (or environmental) career paths. Although the Edison Awards have recognized environmentally friendly products since the early 1990s, 2010 will be the first year the Edison Green Award will be given.

Want to know the specific areas where Edison Award winners excel? Proceed to the next section to learn about the program's judging criteria and categories.