Light Bulb Notebook
It is ironic that an "innovation" as iconic as the invention of the light bulb should be so shrouded in authorship controversy.
Contrary to popular belief, the first electric light was made, not by Thomas Alva Edison, but by the English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan. Swan had been determined to devise a practical, long-lasting electric light. He found that a carbon paper filament worked well, but burned up quickly. In 1878, he demonstrated his new electric lamps in Newcastle, England.
It wasn't until the following year (on 21 October 1879) that the US inventor Thomas Alva Edison, having experimented with thousands of different options, was able to demonstrate that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed but did not burn up for 40 hours. By the end of 1880, having tested thousands more filaments, he had produced a 16 watt bulb that could last for 1,500 hours. He began to market his new invention ...æand the rest, as they say, is history.
The innovator is only rarely also the winner in the marketplace. The idea alone is never enough.
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