A Brief History
On January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison patented the incandescent light bulb, the first truly commercially viable electric light bulb, but certainly not the first light bulb!
Prior to Edison’s patent, other inventors experimented with various ways to produce light from electricity, including Englishman Joseph Swann, who actually marketed the first light bulbs used to light homes and other buildings in 1881.
Prior to Swann and Edison’s successes at producing viable electric light, Ebenezer Kinnersley, an English scientist, first showed how a wire heated by passing an electric current through it caused the wire to glow, producing the first man made incandescent light. Other contributors developing the light bulb include James Bowman Lindsay, Humphrey Davy, Marcellin Jobard, Warren De la Rue, Frederick de Moleyns, John W. Starr, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, Moses G. Farmer, Alexander Lodygin, Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans, and Alessandro Cruto.
All these inventors laid the groundwork for Edison’s patent, while still others claimed to be the “real” inventor.
Question for students (and subscribers): Who would you credit with being the inventor of the light bulb? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Oachs, Emily Rose. The Light Bulb (Inventions That Changed the World). Bellwether Media, 2019.
Simmons, Michael. Thomas Edison: American Inventor. Make Profits Easy LLC, 2016.
The featured image in this article, a photographer of Thomas Edison (1847–1931) with his invented white light bulbs from 1883, is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.
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