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A Quick History of Lamps and Modern Lighting

While gas-based lamps were still widely in use for many years after, the first electric carbon arc lamp was invented in 1801 by England’s Sir Humphrey Davy.  Let’s take a quick look at the timeline of Premiereltg.com lamp and lighting development over the years.

What is an Arc Lamp?

An arc lamp employs two carbon rods hooked up to an electricity source.  The other end of the rods, when spaced at the proper distance, allow for electrical current of vaporizing carbon to flow between them—creating an “arc” when they do so, hence the name—resulting in an intense white light.

Not all arc lamps are the same, though they all employ current running through different types of gas plasma.  For example, France’s A.E. Becquerel first theorized a fluorescent lamp, in 1857; and we now have low-pressure arc lights in big tubes of low pressure gas plasma in fluorescent lights as well as in neon signs.

The First Incandescent Lamp

During the 1870s, both Thomas Edison and Sir Joseph Swann are credited with inventing the very first electric incandescent lamps. These lamps are characterized by electricity flowing through the filament inside the bulb. This filament, of course, has electrical resistance which allows for the filament to heat to quite a high temperature; and it is this heat which radiates the light.  

Quick note:  It was Thomas A Edison’s incandescent lamp which first became commercially successful (circa 1879), with Edison receiving US Patent 223,898 for the design in 1880; a design which has served as the foundation for incandescent lamps still in use to this day.

The First Lightbulb

You might not realize that while Edison is credited with inventing the incandescent lamp, he is not, in fact, responsible for the design of the very first lightbulb.  More accurately, Thomas A. Edison took a 50-year old idea and improved upon it. Before this, the National Research Council of Canada argue that it was actually Henry Woodward and Matthew Evan who should get credit for the patent (even though they could not raise the money to commercialize what they had invented).

Gas Discharge or Vapor Lamps

American Peter Cooper Hewitt received his patent for the first mercury vapor lamp, in 1901. This was a type of arc lamp which used mercury vapor enclosed within a glass bulb.  These were the foundation for what became fluorescent lamps as we know them today.  

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