Thomas Edison

Inventor Nikola Tesla turned to an old trick to sell the brilliant concept of alternating current, which would enable the electrical power grid and the modern machines that run off it

In the fall of 1887 Nikola Tesla was scared. Three years earlier he had emigrated from Europe to New York City, set on becoming an electrical inventor. Read more >>
1. 1606: The Virginia Company is formed to seek profit from a new business: American settlement. 2. 1612: John Rolfe plants West Indian tobacco in Virginia, the cash crop that assures the colony’s success. Read more >>

How a debt-ridden banana republic became the greatest economic engine the world has ever known

To Plan a Trip

Wildlife, Shells, and Thomas Edison’s Laboratory

  The best family vacations combine mind-improving visits to museums and historic houses with enough recreation to keep the kids happy; the older and moodier your children grow, the more carefully you choose and apportion your ingredients. Last April my husband, Kevin, and I took our two teenage boys to Lee County, Florida. A visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates would be the educational uplift, relaxing on Sanibel Island the reward. Read more >>
The literature pants harder and harder to keep up with the dazof the innovations, but with a gun to my head this for the general reader looking for a short list of Jt are technically sophisticated yet comprehensible and the sense of being highly readable. Read more >>

THOMAS EDISON’S GIFT TO THE SEASON

It changed the course of capital punishment in America

Capitalism sometimes operates in unexpected ways and turns up in unexpected places. It can even be involved in what has been, legally, a monopoly of the state since the time of King Henry II—capital punishment. Read more >>

The great democratic art form got off to a very rocky start. People simply didn’t want to crowd into a dark room to look at a flickering light, and it took nearly twenty years for Americans and motion pictures to embrace each other.

On July 5, 1896, the Los Angeles Times greeted the imminent arrival of Thomas Alva Edison’s moving-picture projector with enormous enthusiasm: “The vitascope is coming to town. Read more >>

For two hundred years the United States patent system has defined what is an invention and protected, enriched, and befuddled inventors. As a tool of corporate growth in a global economy, it is now more important than ever.

In a decision of far-reaching significance, a federal circuit court in 1985 ruled that the Eastman Kodak Company had infringed the instant-camera patents held by Polaroid. Read more >>

The men and women who labored in the ghostly light of the great screen to make the music that accompanied silent movies were as much a part of the show as Lillian Gish or Douglas Fairbanks

If I ever kill anyone,” D. W. Griffith once exclaimed, “it won’t be an actor but a musician.” He had been arguing with Joseph Carl Breil, his collaborator on the score for The Birth of a Nation. Read more >>

What happened when the richest man in America decided to collect one of everything

The whole curious enterprise puzzled Americans in the 1920’s. Read more >>

Lighting Up America

“Remember,” Thomas Edison liked to say, “nothing that’s good works by itself, just to please you; you’ve got to make the damn thing work.” One hundred years ago this October, after trying to make the damn thing work for thirtee Read more >>

Fifty European nations came to America on her hundredth birthday—and, for the first time, took her seriously

Centennials don’t make sense. It should be evident that a hundredth anniversary is a mere numerical happenstance without historic significance. Read more >>

Three Americans created the art of the motion picture, and made it the universal language of the twentieth century

The older arts, all seven of them—architecture, dance, drama, literature, music, painting, and sculpture—had their origins in the Mediterranean basin several thousands of years ago. Read more >>