With a lifetime dedicated to invention, Thomas A. Edison earned 1,093 U.S. patents, more than any other single inventor. His impressive achievements include the invention of electric lighting, the phonograph, and motion pictures. Edison was not only a successful inventor, but also an excellent business man who created companies to manufacture his inventions. As befits a man of his talents, there are many websites devoted to Edison and his inventions. These are the pick of the litter.
Produced as a web companion to the 1995 PBS television special, Edison's Miracle of Light is a worthwhile stop even if you've not seen the film. Best clicks are the time line of Edison's life, photo gallery of eight of his inventions, and the Special Features. "In 1887 direct current (DC) was king. At that time there were 121 Edison power stations scattered across the United States delivering DC electricity to its customers." Learn all about AC/DC in the first interactive Special Feature. The second is a collection of five fun tunes the Edison company produced on phonograph records between 1919 and 1926.
"In 1887, at the age of 40 - with a new wife, a new home, a new winter retreat - Thomas Alva Edison set up shop in a new and grandiose laboratory. There he hoped to recapture and ultimately surpass the inventiveness he had enjoyed in the much smaller laboratory he had used a few years earlier. Edison's goal proved elusive." Edison After Forty, produced by the Smithsonian, is a unique look at the demands that success placed upon the prolific inventor.
My pick-of-the-day site is another gem from the Smithsonian. I chose it because it combines multimedia with a well-written feature article, and best of all, it begins with a game. Depending on your mood, there are two ways to navigate Edison Invents! The fun way is to play the Flash concentration game (match Edison's inventions) and then to travel around the game board, clicking on the icons representing phases of Edison's life. The more direct route (for those of you with homework due) is to click on Edison's Story.
Because a collection as large as The Library of Congress can be daunting, their online curators created Learning Pages that offer "tips and tricks, definitions and rationale for using primary sources, activities, discussions, lesson plans and suggestions for using the collections in classroom curriculum." This Learning Page Collection Connection focuses on the early motion pictures and sound recordings of the Edison companies. My favorite clicks are the movie clips such as "A Day with Thomas A. Edison" and "The Great Train Robbery."
The Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Menlo Park Museum were built in 1937 on the exact spot of Edison's original research and development lab, where he earned over 400 patents for inventions such as the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph and the electric railroad car. In fact, the online museum focuses on these three particular inventions, but is also chock full of odd tidbits such as a page titled "Yum! What Did Edison Eat?"