This Day in History – January 27th, 1880

edison bulbThomas Edison did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light. Many earlier inventors had previously devised incandescent lamps, including Alessandro Volta‘s demonstration of a glowing wire in 1800 and inventions by Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans. Others who developed early and commercially impractical incandescent electric lamps included Humphry Davy, James Bowman Lindsay, Moses G. Farmer, William E. Sawyer, Joseph Swan and Heinrich Göbel. Some of these early bulbs had such flaws as an extremely short life, high expense to produce, and high electric current drawn, making them difficult to apply on a large scale commercially.

After many experiments, first with carbon filaments and then with platinum and other metals, in the end Edison returned to a carbon filament. The first successful test was on October 22nd, 1879; it lasted 13.5 hours. Edison continued to improve this design and by November 4th, 1879, filed for U.S. patent 223,898, granted on January 27th, 1880, for an electric lamp using “a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected to platina contact wires”.

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