One more stop in the hardware section before moving on to other topics…
Recently, a bulb burned out in one of our bathrooms. It was the only bulb in this bathroom. It was dark. It was dark in the master bathroom, which we refer to as “mom’s bathroom.” To keep Mrs. Family Trivium happy, Mr. Family Trivium replaced this bulb as quickly as humanly possible.
Upon completing this task, I noted that this was the last of the CFL light bulbs we had in inventory and it was time to procure some more LED bulbs – we’ve been slowly converting. We waxed nostalgic over growing up with incandescent bulbs, the topic of this post, before converting to florescent bulbs, before the current project of switching to LEDs.
A Little History
As was alluded to in a previous post, many of think of Thomas Edison as having invented the light bulb. This is akin to thinking that Henry Ford invented the automobile. The fact is that Edison developed a light bulb that could be brought to the masses.
According to the History section over at Bulbs.com, there were a handful of other inventors who developed different version of the electric light prior to Edison’s commercially practical iteration in 1879. The first was basically a piece of carbon which glowed when electricity was passed through it. This evolved, over the better part of the century, into the modern incandescent bulb with which we are familiar – er, less familiar – today.
The Modern Incandescent Bulb
There are many versions of meme with Edison saying how many times he learned how not to build a light bulb – 100, 1,000, 10,000, etc. According to the Franklin Institute, Edison and his colleagues worked on 3,000+ different theories. By January 1879, Edison’s design consisted of a glass vacuum bulb housing a thin metal filament which glows when electricity is passed through it. This is much the same as the modern design to which we are accustomed. One difference is that this early iteration of Edison’s design used platinum, as opposed to the modern interpretation’s use of tungsten, which Edison theorized would be an appropriate material, though he didn’t have the tools necessary to work with it.
Check back for future posts exploring electric lighting.