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by Chris Johnson
In just about every building we enter, we can see light bulbs that help to illuminate rooms. We might see the traditional round bulbs known as incandescent bulbs, or long strip lights called fluorescents. By now many of us have also seen and used the newer variety of spiral bulbs called CFLs or compact fluorescent lights. Before electric light was invented, people relied on the sun during the day or candles at night to light up their homes. The invention of the light bulb drastically changed the way we live and work now. In this article, we’ll learn about how electric light was invented, how bulbs work, and which types are the best to use.
The History of the Light Bulb
Moving forward to 1835, James Bowman Lindsay, an inventor from Scotland, developed an electric light that was much brighter and it could last a longer time too. However he still found that it had some problems and became too involved with other projects to fine-tune his light. Over the next several decades, many others experimented with platinum coils, carbon filaments, and other devices, but none of them could make a product perfect or affordable enough to mass produce. By 1850, Joseph Swan, an English chemist, found a way to make a bulb with a vacuum pump so that the glass did not become blackened. During the 1870s, a man named Charles Francis Brush continued where Humphry Davy left off and tried to find a way to improve on his electric light invention. He created the Brush Electric Company during 1880.
Around the same time, Thomas Edison had been doing plenty of research to create an incandescent light that could be mass produced in a practical way. Before this, several people and buildings were already using light bulbs developed by Joseph Swan. Later, Edison merged with Swan’s company. As he continued his search for a lighting system, he re-built the dynamo to reach 90 percent efficiency (previously 50 percent was optimum), which produced 110 volts, higher than the voltage used by other inventors. During 1879, Edison began experiments on a variety of carbonized filaments and along the way, Lewis Howard Latimer joined Edison. They found that gases were being given off by the filaments during operation, destroying the vacuum in the bulb, and shortening the duration the filament would remain illuminated. So they created a carbon filament that allowed light bulbs to last much longer. In a demonstration on October 19, 1879 Edison turned on the current and his lamp began to glow. It continued glowing for 40 hours. Other inventors were still producing lamps that glowed for only a few minutes. The date usually given as the time of invention of this first lamp was October 21, when the test was completed. Public announcement of the invention appeared on December 21, 1879 on the front page of the New York Herald. A public demonstration was held at Edison’s Menlo Park, N.J. laboratory on New Year’s Eve.
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Written by Chris Johnson
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