Did Thomas Edison Really Invent the Light Bulb

Lightbulb Filament

Photo by [diciu] morgueFile

Thomas Edison is known as the great American inventor and this is well known all over the world. In 1879 he received total credit for inventing the first electric lightbulb, which was merely one of many awesome pieces of technology that he was known to invent. But did Thomas Edison really invent the lightbulb, or was he merely receiving the credit for this invention?

The Origin of the Lightbulb

Even though Thomas Edison was given total credit for the invention of the lightbulb, this may be a bit misguided. The lightbulb actually first made it’s appearance in 1809 and was the invention of Sir Humphry Davy, an inventor from England.

Davy had experimented by connecting two wires to a battery and then between the other ends of the wire attached a charcoal strip. This caused the charcoal strip to glow, this was the first known instance of the arc lamp.

Then in 1875 a newer version of the lightbulb was patented by Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans in Toronto. Unfortunately they were unable to produce enough money to market their lightbulb on a commercial scale, it was at this point they sold out their idea to Thomas Edison.

Although Thomas Edison was not the true inventor of the lightbulb, he did take Woodward and Evans’ design and build upon it with some improvements. Some of these alterations consisted of using a less powerful electric current to get the lightbulb to produce light.

As 1879 approaches, Thomas Edison of America and Joseph Swan of England simultaneously found a method to produce the lightbulb on a commercial scale by adding elements that would allow for a much longer burning life. But even by today’s standards, most lightbulbs do not have a very long life unless you buy the more modern fluorescent type bulbs.

Other Pre Thomas Edison Lightbulb Attempts

In America, a German man by the name of Heinrich Gobel produced an incandescent lamp back in 1854 using carbonized bamboo as the filament. Keep in mind this was 25 years before Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan ever came on to the lightbulb scene.

By the time 1859 rolled around Gobel had made remarkable improvements to his lamp that would allow it to burn for up to 400 hours! Because of this he actually filed a law suite against Thomas Edison claiming he was in fact the inventor of the electric lightbulb, this all happened in 1893. The courts accepted his claim and ruled in his favor recognizing him as the inventor, then within a few short months after his victory he died of pneumonia.

So you see, there have been many other people involved in the evolution of the lightbulb. Thomas Edison is well known as the true inventor, then Gobel won a law suite stating him the inventor. But this whole time the one true inventor of the electric lightbulb was Sir Humphry Davy from England in 1809.

It’s amazing how many times the ideas of technology may change hands before it actually becomes a commercial product and everyone wants to be recognized as the one who first discovered these ideas. But the fact remains, each and every one of these men had a hand in the evolution of what we today put in our lamps and ceiling fans.

Feel free to add any comments you have about the invention of the things that have made our lives easier. I’m excited to see what will be next in the fascinating world of technology, aren’t you?


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Founder of Odd Random Thoughts and plenty of things on the mind. I love bizarre and interesting information and will always form a unique opinion on it. If you have an interest in strange and unusual subjects and would like to share what you've learned, please feel free to Apply to Become a Contributor.  I would love to hear from you!

Robert Tuttle

Founder of Odd Random Thoughts and plenty of things on the mind. I love bizarre and interesting information and will always form a unique opinion on it. If you have an interest in strange and unusual subjects and would like to share what you've learned, please feel free to Apply to Become a Contributor.  I would love to hear from you!

3 Comments:

  1. Hi,
    I really love this post. I do agree with you that Thomas Edison is known as the great American inventor and this is well known all over the world. The information in this article is really unique and useful for me. I also very excited to see what will be next in the fascinating world of technology. Thanks for sharing this post. Hope to read more interesting information from you. Great job!

    • Hey thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the read. Thomas Edison most definitely was a pioneer in inventing many great things, so I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea of this post. It certainly isn’t meant to speak badly of him for not being the one true inventor of the lightbulb “idea”. He most certainly put forth much effort in improving upon that idea.
      Robert Tuttle recently posted…Superstitious Beliefs About ScissorsMy Profile

  2. I was reading a theory about ancient Egypt having electrical lamps depicted in hieroglyphics.

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