Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1931) was an American inventor and businessman who developed many devices which greatly influenced life worldwide into the 21st century. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production to the process of invention, and can therefore be credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory. Some of the inventions attributed to him were not completely original but amounted to improvements of earlier inventions or were actually created by numerous employees working under his direction. Nevertheless, Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,097 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He lived to the age of 84.