Al Edison and the light bulb


What do you mean he didn’t invent it?

Thomas Alva Edison is a really famous guy. Al (as he liked to be called) had many inventions along the way including the phonograph, the electrograph vote recorder and the magnetic iron ore separator. However, there is one invention that Al seems to get all of the credit for and although it’s not completely without merit, it is not completely accurate either. Ask a second grader who invented electric light and chances are their answer will be Edison. However, Edison did not invent electric lights. He did however create the light bulb making it practical and dim enough to use in our homes

Here is the actual historical information on the evolution of the light bulb. Read, study, memorize and prepare to kick some butt the next time you play trivia with your friends!


  • The first electric light was made in 1800 by Humphry Davy, an English scientist. He experimented with electricity and invented an electric battery. When he connected wires to his battery and a piece of carbon, the carbon glowed, producing light. This is called an electric arc.
  • Much later, in 1860, the English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) was determined to devise a practical, long-lasting electric light. He found that a carbon paper filament worked well, but burned up quickly. In 1878, he demonstrated his new electric lamps in Newcastle, England.
  • In 1877, the American Charles Francis Brush manufactured some carbon arcs to light a public square in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. These arcs were used on a few streets, in a few large office buildings, and even some stores. Electric lights were only used by a few people.
  • The inventor Thomas Alva Edison (in the USA) experimented with thousands of different filaments to find just the right materials to glow well and be long-lasting. In 1879, Edison discovered that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed but did not burn up for 40 hours. Edison eventually produced a bulb that could glow for over 1500 hours.
  • Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) improved the bulb by inventing a carbon filament (patented in 1881); Latimer was a member of Edison's research team, which was called "Edison's Pioneers." In 1882, Latimer developed and patented a method of manufacturing his carbon filaments.
  • In 1903, Willis R. Whitney invented a treatment for the filament so that it wouldn't darken the inside of the bulb as it glowed. In 1910, William David Coolidge (1873-1975) invented a tungsten filament which lasted even longer than the older filaments. The incandescent bulb revolutionized the world.

Here at Eclipse we are grateful to all of these fine inventors. And no matter who you believe invented the light bulb, we can change your bulbs whenever you need it!

Eclipse Lighting Services, LLC provides electrical maintenance and repair for privately owned facilities and facilities management firms, with the added assurance that with every visit you will find our service employees, unexpectedly pleasant. Call our friendly staff at 716-491-6958 or email us at

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