The History of the Light Bulb

Events

Sir Humphry Davy made platinum strips glow

1801

Sir Humphry Davy, an English chemist, made platinum strips glow by passing an electric current through them, but the strips evaporated too quickly to make a useful lamp.
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Sir Humphry Davy created the first arc lamp

1809

Sir Humphry Davy demonstrated to the Royal Institution of Great Britain

1810

he demonstrated to the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1810, by creating a small but blinding arc between two charcoal rods connected to a battery.
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Warren de la Rue enclosed a platinum coil in an evacuated tube

1820

British scientist Warren De la Rue enclosed a platinum coil in an evacuated tube and passed an electric current through it. The design was based on the concept that the high melting point of platinum would allow it to operate at high temperatures and that the evacuated chamber would contain less gas particles to react with the platinum, improving its longevity. Although it was an efficient design, the cost of the platinum made it impractical for commercial use. http://www.gizmohighway.com/history/light_bulb.htm

James Bowman Lindsay demonstrated a constant electric light

1835

In 1835 James Bowman Lindsay demonstrated a constant electric light at a public meeting in Dundee. He stated that he could "read a book at a distance of one and a half foot". However having perfected the device, to his own satisfaction, he turned to the problem of wireless telegraphy and did not develop the electric light any further.
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Frederick de Moleyns of England was granted the first patent for an incandescent lamp

1841

In 1841 Frederick de Moleyns of England was granted the first patent for an incandescent lamp, with a design using powdered charcoal heated between two platinum wires. http://www.gizmohighway.com/history/light_bulb.htm

Joseph Wilson Swan began working with carbonized paper filaments in an evacuated glass bulb

1850

In 1850 he began working with carbonized paper filaments in an evacuated glass bulb.
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Heinrich Goebel developed the first practical light bulb

Approx. 1854 - 1855

In the following five years he developed what many call the first practical light bulb. His lamps lasted for up to 400 hours. He did not immediately apply for a patent, but his priority was established in 1893
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Heinrich Goebel developed the first modern light bulb

1854

In 1854, the German inventor Heinrich Goebel developed the first 'modern' light bulb: a carbonized bamboo filament, in a vacuum bottle to prevent oxidation.
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Joseph Swan had a working bulb with a short lifetime

1860

By 1860 he was able to demonstrate a working device but lack of a good vacuum and an adequate supply of electricity resulted in a short lifetime for the bulb and inefficient light.
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Joseph Swan got better pumps and returned to his experiments

Approx. 1870

By the mid-1870s better pumps became available, and Swan returned to his experiments. Swan
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Canadian patent filed for the Woodward and Evan's Light by Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans

July 24 1874

On July 24, 1874 a Canadian patent was filed for the Woodward and Evan's Light by a Toronto medical electrician named Henry Woodward and a colleague Mathew Evans, who was described in the patent as a "Gentleman" but in reality a hotel keeper. They built their lamp with a shaped rod of carbon held between electrodes in an glass bulb filled with nitrogen. Woodward and Evans found it impossible to raise financial support for the development of their invention and in 1875 Woodward sold a share of their Canadian patent to Thomas Edison.
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Edison bought a share of Woodward's patent

1875

Woodward and Evans found it impossible to raise financial support for the development of their invention and in 1875 Woodward sold a share of their Canadian patent to Thomas Edison.
Edison purchased the Woodward and Evans patent and had a team of developers search for an alternative filament material. http://www.gizmohighway.com/history/light_bulb.htm

Pavel Nikolayevich Yablochkov developed the first practical arc lamp

1875

n 1875, Pavel Nikolayevich Yablochkov, a Russian electrical engineer and inventor, developed the first practical arc lamp known as the "Yablochkov Candle." Yablochkov used two parallel carbon rods to extend the life of the battery.
http://www.delmarfans.com/educate/basics/who-invented-light-bulbs/

Joseph Swan received a British patent for his device

1878

Swan reported success to the Newcastle Chemical Society

February 1879

Swan reported success to the Newcastle Chemical Society and at a lecture in Newcastle in February 1879 he demonstrated a working lamp that utilized a carbon fibre filament. The most significant feature of Swan's lamp was that there was little residual oxygen in the vacuum tube to ignite the filament, thus allowing the filament to glow almost white-hot without catching fire. From this year he began installing light bulbs in homes and landmarks in England and by the early 1880s had started his own company.
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Edison used a carbon filament that burned for forty hours

October 21, 1879 - October 21, 1879 01:00pm

he used a carbon filament that burned for forty hours (first successful test was on October 21, 1879; it lasted 13 1/2 hours).
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Joseph Swan started his own company

Approx. 1880

From this year he began installing light bulbs in homes and landmarks in England and by the early 1880s had started his own company.
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Edison created a light bulb that could last 1,200 hours

1880

By 1880 he had a device that could last for over 1200 hours using a bamboo-derived filament, longer than the 400 hours of Heinrich Goebel's earlier light bulb. http://www.gizmohighway.com/history/light_bulb.htm

Lewis Latimer received a patent for the "Process of Manufacturing Carbons"

Approx. January 1882

In January 1882, Lewis Latimer received a patent for the "Process of Manufacturing Carbons," an improved method for the production of light-bulb filaments which yielded longer lasting bulbs than Edison's technique http://www.gizmohighway.com/history/light_bulb.htm

Swan took Edison to court for patent infringement

Approx. 1882

In Britain, Swan took Edison to court for patent infringement. Edison lost and as part of the settlement, Edison was forced to take Swan in as a partner in his British electric works. The company was called the Edison and Swan United Electric Company. Eventually, Edison acquired all of Swan's interest in the company
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Swan sold his U.S. patent rights to the Brush Electric Company

June 1882

Willis Whitnew invented a filament that would not make the inside of a light bulb turn dark

1903

The General Electric Company were the first to patent a method of making tungsten filaments

1906

In 1906, the General Electric Company were the first to patent a method of making tungsten filaments for use in incandescent lightbulbs.
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William David Coolidge invented an improved method of making tungsten filaments making the cost practical

1910

The filaments were costly, but by 1910 William David Coolidge (1873-1975) had invented an improved method of making tungsten filaments. The tungsten filament outlasted all other types of filaments and Coolidge made the costs practical. http://www.gizmohighway.com/history/light_bulb.htm