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In 1880, Edison was searching for new ways to use his electric power system. One of the things he attempted was the first electric railway, located at Menlo Park. Edison used his new dynamo to drive the train. For the railway to work, he also needed to invent a brake that would work with an electric train. Edison set up a 2-mile test track at Menlo Park, but abandoned the project due to his involvement in electric lighting.
In 1883 Edison discovered the basic principle of electronics, which was later named the “Edison Effect.” Edison discovered that electric current can flow through an empty vacuum space in a lamp, from the filament to a plate in the lamp. Edison witnessed the effect but too preoccupied with his other work to study it in depth.
One of Edison’s greatest challenges was the electric battery. Edison worked to develop batteries for electric cars and other uses. He first developed a miner’s lamp connected to batteries, and then tackled the electric car.
Electric cars were popular in the early 1900s, but had limited range due to heavy batteries that did not hold a charge for long. Edison tried different materials, and vastly improved batteries, but gasoline cars won out, due in part to their cheaper costs and greater range.