Edison’s wife, Mary, died in August 1884, and in February 1886 he remarried Mirna Miller; they would have three children together. He built a large estate and research laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, with facilities including a machine shop, a library and buildings for metallurgy, chemistry and woodworking. Spurred on by others’ work on improving the phonograph, he began working toward producing a commercial model. He also had the idea of linking the phonograph to a zoetrope, a device that strung together a series of photographs in such a way that the images appeared to be moving. Working with William K.L. Dickson, Edison succeeded in constructing a working motion picture camera, the Kinetograph, and a viewing instrument, the Kinetoscope, which he patented in 1891.
After years of heated legal battles with his competitors in the fledgling motion-picture industry, Edison had stopped working with moving film by 1918. In the interim, he had had success developing an alkaline storage battery, which he originally worked on as a power source for the phonograph but later supplied for submarines and electric vehicles. In 1912, automaker Henry Ford asked Edison to design a battery for the self-starter, which would be introduced on the iconic Model T. The collaboration began a continuing relationship between the two great American entrepreneurs. Despite the relatively limited success of his later inventions (including his long struggle to perfect a magnetic ore-separator), Edison continued working into his 80s. His rise from poor, uneducated railroad worker to one of the most famous men in the world made him a folk hero. More than any other individual, he was credited with building the framework for modern technology and society in the age of electricity.