Evolution of the Light Bulb Part I

Home Lighting Fixtures

If your version of the invention of the light bulb features one excited “eureka” and an equally thrilled Thomas Edison, you’re wrong. The electric streetlight existed long before Edison’s globe. There were several alternatives to the gaslight in those days, but their inventors weren’t as gifted at self-promotion as Edison was.

Alessandro Volta invented the first electric light: a glowing copper lamp that conducted electricity with salt water, cardboard, and zinc. Invention is rarely a solitary enterprise. It evolves through the discoveries of generations of innovators. The second person to contribute to the light bulb’s development was Humphrey Davy, who used charcoal electrodes to build an arc lamp. Joseph Swan substituted paper filaments with platinum, but his bulb wasn’t economical enough to hit retail shelves.

Edison’s Eureka

In 1874, Edison bought a patent for a carbon rod electric lamp from Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans. He hired a team of researchers and began testing thousands of bulbs until he finally arrived at a design that was safe, lasting and economical enough to sell. Unlike his predecessors, Edison spoke to the New York Times about his invention, and so a legend was born.

The Patent King

Edison accumulated 1,093 patents in his lifetime. Whether he was better at publicity or invention, his bulb was a crucial point in the industrial revolution. Factory owners learned that they could stretch their investment further if they could keep their production line moving 24 hours a day. This massive acceleration in production birthed the contemporary consumer economy.

The light bulb has never stopped evolving. LED lamps are the most innovative modern versions, with hues and luminosities that are constantly being improved upon. Edison may not have invented the first electric light, but he certainly inspired the first century of its advancement.
Premier Lighting has taken the patents and inventions of those before us and perfected them for your benefit. Contact us today to begin on your home’s new lighting design.