Glacial Energy Blog

The Invention of the First Light Bulb

The light bulb has a long and interesting history, and while you might think you know about the invention of the first light bulb, there’s a good chance that you are incorrect. Do you believe that Thomas Edison was the inventor of the very first light bulb in 1879? The history of the bulb is a bit deeper and a bit older than that.

In the Beginning

It begins in 1806, when Humphrey Davy introduced an electric lamp to the Royal Society in Britain. This was an arc lamp, which created light via an electrical spark generated between two rods made of charcoal. While an interesting device, this lamp was simply not something that was going to be practical for most people to use. It was just too bright to be in a home or a place of business. It also relied on vast amounts of power, and that meant that the batteries on which it ran drained quickly. Time passed, and the invention of electric generators was able to reduce the consumption of power. People started using the bright arc lights for searchlights.

More than thirty years later, the inventions were moved quickly toward what we now know as the light bulb of today. However, they still weren’t perfect by any means. Frederick DeMoleyns patented a bulb in 1841 that would enclose the burner in a glass container and pump out the oxygen. J.W. Starr invented something similar just a few years later, followed by an invention of a chemist named Joseph Swan. While the concepts behind these inventions were solid, they were simply impractical for everyday usage.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, inventor extraordinaire, knew that anyone who would be able to perfect the light bulb would be able to make a fortune. He also happened to be one of the brightest minds at that time. In 1878, he started looking into a way to make the light bulb better, practical, and perfect for every home. His first attempt, just a few months after he began tackling the project, was not successful. However, he then added a physicist named Francis Upton to his team. Within just a few years though, they were able to create a light bulb that is similar to the ones that you know and use today. It is not going too far to say that this invention really did change the world!

Never Done

Of course, inventions need to continually change and evolve if they are going to remain relevant, and that’s just what the light bulb is doing. Today, we have energy saving bulbs that are more efficient and longer lasting than those that Edison created well over a hundred years ago. Who knows what we might be using a hundred years from now!


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