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Inventor and history of the light bulb

Inventor and history of the light bulb

More than 140 years ago, one of the most revolutionary and important inventions in history for the advancement of society, the light bulb or incandescent lamp, was born.

The presence of the light bulb in history is so essential in every second of our day that we do not realize that it is there with us. According to statistics, about 2.5 billion light bulbs of various types are sold every year.

We only realize that the bulb is not illuminating us or how important it is when, for some reason beyond our control, it is absent.

Most people think they know who invented the light bulb. It is usually considered that the inventor of the light bulb was Thomas Edison, but what Edison did was to perfect Joseph Swan’s invention and make it work more effectively and for a longer period of time.

It all began on October 21, 1879 when Thomas Alva Edison showed for the first time the electric lamp with a bulb that was lit for 48 hours. On New Year’s Eve of the same year, Edison presented in his New Jersey laboratory a circuit made up of 40 incandescent bulbs, which he himself turned on and off. And a month later, on January 27, 1880, Edison patented the light bulb.

The controversy over the inventor of the light bulb arose when other inventors such as Joseph Swan, Humphry Davy or Henry Woodward appeared, who demonstrated that they had invented other light bulbs prior to Edison’s.

In 1809, Humphry Davy connected a carbon filament to the two poles of a battery, producing light. Years later, in 1820, the British chemist and astronomer Warren de la Rue changed the carbon filament to platinum, connected to two electric poles inside a glass body. Although it worked better than Davy’s, the high cost of platinum made it difficult to commercialize. The race to be the inventor of the ultimate light bulb continued and in 1835 James Bowman Lindsay built a lamp that allowed reading in the dark.

Later came Joseph Wilson Swan, a British physicist and chemist, who since 1850 had been working with tungsten filaments and carbonized paper inside a glass bulb. This work led him to obtain the patent for the light bulb for Great Britain in 1860. Swan, seeing that the invention of the light bulb was not recognized worldwide, joined Edison in 1881 and founded the Edison & Swan United Electric Light Company Limited. This union brought about the improvement of the light bulb, providing it with new elements that allowed its durability over time and the beginning of mass production.

But it doesn’t stop there, we must mention as part of the history of the light bulb the Serbian engineer Nikola Tesla, who discovered alternating current, which made light bulbs more durable. In 1884 Tesla also joined Edison to merge knowledge.

The history and generalization of the light bulb radically changed our lives, as this invention transformed our habits, impacting our cycles, prolonging working hours, allowing us to create new businesses and connecting us in worldwide networks.


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