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Inquiring Minds - Who Invented the Light Bulb?

The age of Edison : electric light and the invention of modern AmericaLibrarian Judy Woodward compiles the most interesting reference questions and sends them to the Roseville Review. Got a question for us? Ask A Librarian!

Here's today's illuminating question:

Q. Did Thomas Edison really invent the light bulb?

A. In 1879 Edison became the first to develop a commercially viable incandescent electric light bulb, but his invention built on the work of others. Way back in 1802, an Englishman named Humphrey Davy demonstrated the world’s first incandescent light by passing electric current through a thin platinum filament.

During the next eight decades, inventors from Britain, France, Germany and Russia all obtained patents for variations on the light bulb. An English scientist named Joseph Swan made so much progress that he was able to illuminate his own house and even started a company to market his invention. But only Edison had the all-American ingenuity—as well as instincts for marketing and self-promotion--- that earned him the nickname “Father of the Light Bulb.” In 1883, the Swan Electric Light Co. merged with Edison to form a company that eventually became known as Edison General Electric.

There are probably a lot of unsung computer software pioneers out there who look at Bill Gates and know exactly how Joseph Swan must have felt. (Scientists: The Lives and Works of 150 Scientists and Internet resources.)


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