Thomas Edison’s Spirit Phone: Could He Really Communicate with the Dead?

Thomas Edison, one of the most celebrated inventors of all time, is best known for his work on the electric light bulb and the phonograph. But what many people don’t know is that Edison was also interested in the paranormal and spoke openly about his belief that it was possible to communicate with the dead using technology. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at Edison’s so-called “spirit phone” and try to determine whether or not he was really onto something.

Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was born in 1847 in Ohio, United States. He was the seventh and last child of his parents, who were of Dutch and English descent respectively. From a very young age, Edison showed an aptitude for invention and tinkering. When he was just twelve years old, he started publishing a newspaper called The Grand Rapids Herald.

In 1864, at the age of seventeen, Edison moved to New York City to start his own business. He soon found work as a telegraph operator and began inventing various devices to make the job easier. One of his most successful early inventions was the stock ticker, which he sold to a financial firm for $40,000 (equivalent to over $600,000 today).

In 1876, Edison opened a laboratory in New Jersey. It was here that he would go on to develop some of his most famous inventions, including the light bulb and the phonograph. He received funding for his work from a group of investors known as the “Royalty”.

Henry Ford looked up to the American inventor from boyhood and even worked for the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit until he left in 1899 to create his automotive company. Edison was both a friend and a mentor to Ford throughout his life.

Edison died at the age of 84 in 1931. Edison’s death was a result of a number of ailments he suffered over the last few years of his life and he ultimately slipped into a coma at his estate in West Orange, New Jersey and passed away 4 days later.

Over the years Edison held over 1,000 patents for his inventions. Because of Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory, he was given the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park”. He’s also considered by many to be the world’s greatest inventor. Edison died in 1931 at the age of 84.

Edison Believed We Could Communicate With The Dead

In 1920, the inventor shocked the public when he told American Magazine: “I have been at work for some time, building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities who have left this earth to communicate with us.”

Edison went on to say that he had already conducted experiments with mediums and had been successful in communicating with the other side, but he wanted to find a way to contact spirits without using a human intermediary.

Many people had become intrigued with the idea of communicating with the dead as a result of the fatalities suffered during World War I. The idea of a phone to communicate with the dead was first proposed by British engineer Oliver Lodge in 1916. Lodge believed that radio waves could be used to contact the dead, and he even went so far as to build a prototype that he claimed was successful in communicating with his deceased son. Edison was reportedly inspired by Lodge’s work and set out to build his own version.

Even though Edison set out to create a spirit phone he did not consider himself clairvoyant or a medium and according to Edison’s diary, he even thought the idea of spirits communicating through a talking board was ridiculous.

Thomas Edison Never Released Any Recordings From His Spirit Phone Experiments

So how did Edison’s communication device work? According to reports, it consisted of a microphone, an amplifier, and a device called a condenser, which was designed to convert sounds into electrical impulses. These electrical impulses were then transmitted via radio waves and recorded on a phonograph cylinder.

Edison allegedly conducted several experiments with his spirit phone, but he never released any recordings of these supposed conversations with the dead. Some believe that this is because Edison thought that such recordings would be dismissed as fraudulent, while others believe that Edison may have actually been successful in contacting the other side but chose not to share his findings for fear of ridicule.

What Happened To His Spirit Phone After Thomas Edison Died?

The fate of Edison’s spirit phone is unknown. The only record of the device comes from a description in American Magazine, and it’s unclear if the device still exists or not.

There are many who believe that Edison was onto something with his spirit phone experiments. If he was indeed successful in communicating with the other side, it would represent a major breakthrough in our understanding of the afterlife. Unfortunately, we may never know for sure what happened with Edison’s phone, as the inventor took his secrets to the grave.


Did Thomas Edison really build a spirit phone that allowed him to communicate with the dead? Could you imagine if Edison spoke with the dead for real! We may never know for sure. But what we do know is that Edison was a brilliant inventor who always pushed boundaries and challenged convention. Whether or not the phone actually worked is almost beside the point; the fact that that was one of Edison’s experiments shows us just how open-minded and innovative he truly was.

Kasper Finn

What drives me is a desire to unravel the mysteries of life. Why do we believe what we believe? Are there creatures lurking in the shadows that science has yet to uncover? I want to know it all, and I firmly believe that there are no limits to what can be discovered.

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