Know Everything About Shining a Lamp on Thomas Edison
Edison (1847-1931) was truly a gift to mankind. His inventions
profoundly helped to shape the modern world. His genius, insatiable
curiosity and unstoppable persistence combined to bring us the
incandescent electric light bulb, the telephone receiver, the
microphone, the motion picture projector, the phonograph, the
mimeograph, the dictating machine, the alkaline nickel-iron storage
battery and so much more from his grand total of 1,093 patented inventions.
At age 10 he
set up a chemical lab in his home and it wasn't long before he was
operating a homemade telegraph set.
At 21 be
became a free-lance inventor, soon earning a $40,000 fortune.
At 29 he
opened a laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey and vowed that he'd
create a minor invention every 10 days and a major one every 6
months. Soon he had 40 different projects going at once and was
applying for as many as 400 patents per year. In the middle of all
this he formed Edison Electric Light Company (now General Electric).
By then he was a mere 31 years old.
His pursuit of
the light bulb alone involved the testing of untold thousands of
filament materials in order to find a long-burning conductor that
would require the least electrical power.
The light bulb
was invented simultaneously by Edison and by Britain's Sir Joseph
Wilson Swan in 1879. Swan was first to actually construct a light
bulb. But the additional challenge was that the filament had to be
housed in an oxygen-free environment, and Swan had trouble
maintaining a vacuum.
achieved a few hours of light with a platinum filament in a glass
vacuum bulb. "We are striking it big," Edison said.
"Where this thing is going to stop, Lord only knows."
of filament materials that Edison tested included the carbonized
filaments of some 6,000 living plants. "I ransacked the world
for the most suitable filament material," he said after finally
coming up with the one that started it all for the electric lamp.
demonstrated the first carbon-filament lamp on October 21, 1879. And
within no more than a year after that he had developed a 16-watt
light bulb that could last for 1500 hours.
So the gas
lamp faded into history, and Edison went on to bigger things. Within
three years he had developed and installed the world's first large
central electric power station in New York City. It rose as a
contribution that facilitated the electrical illumination of entire
cities in America and all over the world.
You can thank
the extraordinary Thomas Edison whenever you switch on a lamp. Table
lamps, street lamps, headlamps... we take them so for granted.
But what would life be like without them?
America's Thomas Alva Edison received the Congressional Gold Medal in
1928 for "inventions that have revolutionized civilization in
the last century."