Who discovered the lightbulb?

Inventor of the light bulb





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History of the lightbulb

Modern people live in an enlightened world. A world that was changed in particular by the invention of the light bulb; an invention without which our life today would be completely impossible.

Electric light is one of our everyday conveniences. It is said to have been invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1879, but Edison was neither the first nor the only inventor to try his hand at the light bulb. In fact, a wide variety of scientists tried their hand at this invention decades before him and a cost-effective result was already in the foreground back then. One of the great goals of the 19th century was to be able to use electric light for everyone. And a race for the result developed, but who ultimately won that race?

The beginning was clearly made by the English chemist Sir Humphry Davy, who already tried a concept in 1802 in which he connected two strips of charcoal to one another. His experiments led to the first arc lamp and represent the basis of all further research on electric light to this day. As early as 1820, Warner de la Rue, based on Davy's findings, used a platinum thread under a glass bell to produce light. However, due to the cost of platinum, this lamp was far too expensive for commercial use. The search went on and led to James Prescott Joule, who announced for the first time that electrical current flowing with high resistance through a conductor produces thermal energy and this in turn produces light energy.

With this in mind, the search for the right filament began - a filament that was both inexpensive and practical. In 1840, the English doctor and chemist Joseph Wilson Swan developed the first practical and functioning incandescent lamp, based on these conditions, with a carbonized paper conductor in a partial vacuum. He had this patented in 1860. One problem remained, however. This light bulb still produced very weak light and did not last long.

After all, it was Thomas Alva Edison who was supposed to make this light bulb commercially viable through a similar technology. With the help of a filament made from Japanese bamboo, his incandescent lamp lasted a full 1200 hours in 1880. This is the moment when the electric light truly entered people's daily life. And this is also the reason why Edison is known to many as the father of the light bulb.

An amazing development also took place in 1906, when Edison's General Electric Company became the first to officially patent a technique on tungsten filament for lightbulbs. The story of the light bulb is certainly not over with that. Improvements continue to this day, and it wasn't until 1991 that Philips invented a lightbulb that, thanks to magnetic induction, lasted 60,000 hours.

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