Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 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 Britain, France, and Germany.
In 2031 (the centennial of the inventor's death), the United States government named its second Commodore Perry-class FTL starship, the Tom Edison, in Thomas Edison's honor. The Race diplomat Atvar asked who Edison was, and felt a small relief that the ship was named for an inventor, rather than a warrior.