Thomas Edison didn't invent the light bulb, but he did invent it (2023)

crossErin Blackmore

Posted on April 13, 2022

(Video) Ask History: Who Really Invented the Light Bulb? | History

10 minute read

A leaking container of chemicals. The wagons were on fire. When Thomas Alva Edison was young, the list of reasons for his dismissal seemed as long as the list of patents he ended up owning.

Despite the aspiring inventor's revolutionary ideas that would change the course of the industry that hired and fired him, the boy isCharacterIn his 1931 obituaryNew York Times"He gained a reputation for being the [telegraph] operator who couldn't keep his job."

As it turns out, Edison became famous for his legendary determination and his oft-repeated mantra that genius is "one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent sweat." He then went on to invent the devices that shape the modern world and perfect other groundbreaking innovations. So his improvements to the lightbulb finally brought electricity to light for people around the world.

This is how the so-called “Wizard of Menlo Park” gained such fame and is still considered one of the greatest inventors of all time.

a curious young man

Thomas Alva Edison was born in Ohio in 1847 and spent his childhood in Port Huron, Michigan, where he received only a brief formal education. His mother, a former teacher, homeschooled him from the age of seven and he read widely. His childhood adventures included ambitious chemical experiments in his parents' basement, with his biographer's name inscribed on them.einzelLike "near-explosion and near-disaster."

(Video) Bad person?

Edison's curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit got him a job at age 12 as a "news butcher," a peddler hired by the railroad to sell snacks, newspapers, and other goods to train passengers. Not content with selling news, he decided to print them as well.createand published the first newspaper ever produced and printed on a moving train,Herald with a large trunkHe also conducted chemical experiments on the train.

At age 15, due to his unique ability to get fired for mentally planning experiments and inventions while working, Edison became a traveling telegraph operator for Western Union before moving to New York to open his own office. The telegraph would eventually inspire many of his early patented inventions. In 1874, at the age of 27, he inventedquadruple telegraph, which allowed telegraph operators to send four messages at once, increasing industry efficiency without having to build new telegraph lines.

Become a Menlo Park magician

meanwhile edisonMarriedIn 1876, one of their associates, Mary Stilwell, moved with them to Menlo Park, New Jersey. The rural areas are the perfect place to build a new breed of laboratory that embodies the inventiveness and entrepreneurial spirit of its owners: Edison's research and development facility, where his "bastards," as he calls them, can build anything what you can imagine.

Edison continued to improve the telegraph, and when he was working on a device that could record telegraph messages, he wondered if it could also record sound. He created a machine that could convert the vibrations generated by speech into notches on a piece of paper.

In 1877, Edison, now 30, spoke the first two lines of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" into the machine and played them with a crank. he aloneinventedHe called it Edison's talking phonograph. That same year, Edison developed an improved microphone transmitter that helped improve the phone.

light bulb

Edison's phonograph was innovative, but was seen primarily as a novelty. He turned to another concept that would change the world: the lightbulb.

Lightbulbs have been around since the early 1800s, but because of their filaments (the part that produces light), they are fragile and have a short lifespan. An early form of electric light, the carbon arc lamp, relied on vapor from a stick of carbon heated by a battery to produce light. But they had to be lit by hand, and the bulbs flickered, hissed, and burned out easily. Other designs were too expensive and impractical for widespread use.

(Video) Thomas Edison didn’t Invent Light Bulb

In contrast, Edisons were cheap, practical, and durable. After years of obsessively refining the concept of the lightbulb, in 1879 he introduced a lightbulb that had a record lifespan of 14.5 hours.

"My lamp is finally perfect", EdisonindicatestillNew York TimesReporter of the Year When people learned of the lightbulb, they flocked to Menlo Park, and hundreds visited the now brightly lit lab in public.DemonstrationDecember 31, 1879.

"The opinion of [scientists] and the unanimously expressed opinion of non-scientists is that Edison really did create the light of the future."MessageIt isNew York Herald.

In return, a man namedLewis LatimerImproved Edison upgrades to make lightbulb filaments more durable and efficient. At the same time, Edison founded an electricity company and worked on innovations that would make electric light more affordable.

Fight the "Current War"

Edison's inventions made him famous around the world and sparked fierce competition for electric currents. Edison's system was based on direct current (DC), which could only power a large number of buildings in densely populated areas. However, Edison's competitors, including Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla and businessman George Westinghouse, used an AC system that was cheaper and could power more distant customers.

As the AC system became popular, Edison used the media to declare war on Westinghouse and Tesla, attributing electro-related deaths to AC and launching an advertising campaign showcasing AC's lethal potential. Competition intensified when Edison funded public experiments using alternating current to kill animals. But the terrifying climax comes as Edison desperately tries to ensure his technology is secretly enforced.subsidizedInventing and manufacturing the first electric chair that made it work on alternating current.

Despite his shocking campaign against air conditioning, Edison ultimately lost the current battle due to price realities and his dwindling influence over the energy company he founded.

(Video) Thomas Edison Didn't Invent the Light Bulb #Shorts

Edison's later life

In 1884, tragedy befell MariadeceasedPossible morphine overdose. Two years later, 39-year-old Edison married 20-year-old Mina Miller. During their winter stay in Fort Myers, Florida, the couple met a man who would later become one of Edison's research associates: automotive pioneer and founder of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford.

During World War I, both Ford and Edison were concerned about America's dependence on Britain for rubber procurement, which was vital to the war effort. Along with Henry Firestone, who had made his fortune selling rubber tires, the two set up a research company and laboratory to study possible Native American sources from which rubber could be made. Although Edison thought Solidago could be a replacement, the project went aheadnever revealedA viable source of US-made rubber.

Edison continued to make a name for himself with his seemingly endless energy for innovation and experimentation, which began with the movies: he opened the world's first production studio, known ascell car, 1893 - bistalking doll.IsclaimHe only sleeps four hours a night and reportedly doesn't believe in exercise.holdHe lived on milk and cigars for years. Finally, he died in 1931 at the age of 84 as a result of diabetes.

The legacy of Thomas Edison

Dubbed the "Wizard of Menlo Park," Edison can be seen today in the countless kingdoms he influenced. From movies to clairvoyance to batteries, technological innovation seemed untouched everywhere, and during his lifetime he received 1,093 patents to his name in the US alone.

Throughout his life he was criticized for his careless approach to innovation. But Edison's relentless pursuit of invention and willingness to try anything in the process earned him a reputation as one of the greatest minds in American history.

"Every lightbulb is his monument," he wroteNew York Timesreturnhis step “Every strong man is his monument. Where there is a gramophone or a radio, where there is a film, whether silent or sound, there is Edison.”

(Video) Thomas Edison Didn't Invent the Light Bulb.


Thomas Edison didn't invent the light bulb, but he did invent it? ›

Edison did not actually invent the light bulb, of course. People had been making wires incandesce since 1761, and plenty of other inventors had demonstrated and even patented various versions of incandescent lights by 1878, when Edison turned his attention to the problem of illumination.

Who failed 9999 times? ›

In response to a question about his missteps, Edison once said, “I have not failed 10,000 times—I've successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

Who failed 10,000 times? ›

Had Edison followed the traditional model of product-development model of writing a product specification, building a product, then trying to sell it, his competitors would have beat him by decades. Later Edison became famous for saying “I have not failed 10,000 times.

How many mistakes did Edison make with the light bulb? ›

Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.

What problem did the invention of the light bulb solve? ›

Electric light bulbs created the practice of shift work, increased worker efficiency, and allowed for greater productivity. They also improved working conditions, eliminated heat and pollution caused by gas lighting, and reduced fire hazards.

Who failed 1000 times? ›


As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times.

Have found 10,000 ways that don t work? ›

I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” – Thomas A. Edison.

Who died with more than 1,000 US patents to his credit? ›

Did you know? By the time he died at age 84 on October 18, 1931, Thomas Edison had amassed a record 1,093 patents: 389 for electric light and power, 195 for the phonograph, 150 for the telegraph, 141 for storage batteries and 34 for the telephone.

What is Thomas Edison's most famous quote? ›

Famous Quotes by Thomas Edison. “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

What was Thomas Edison's failed experiment? ›

Electric Light Bulb

Yes! He failed 2774 times according to his records and then reached a working design of an electric light bulb. This is how many times Thomas failed in making a light bulb filament that will glow in a vacuum when electricity is passed. He worked on a design that already existed.

What are some things Thomas Edison failed at? ›

One concept that never took off was Edison's interest in using cement to build things. He formed the Edison Portland Cement Co. in 1899, and made everything from cabinets (for phonographs) to pianos and houses. Unfortunately, at the time, concrete was too expensive and the idea was never accepted.

What was Edison's biggest challenge in creating the light bulb? ›

Thomas Edison's toughest challenge to create the electric light bulb was to maintain the incandescent filament during the electric current. History tells that more than 1,000 attempts were made.

Why did Thomas Edison steal the idea of the light bulb? ›

And Edison didn't steal their idea. Rather, Edison improved on their idea by first understanding the market. He realized that a more commercially viable and longer lasting light bulb was needed if light bulbs were to go mainstream. So, he and his team created this product and the rest is history.

What did Thomas Edison do to improve the light bulb? ›

In the case of the light bulb, Edison may have been convinced that he could make a large amount of money by creating a new product which could replace gas lighting. He set to work on such a light source, devising a bulb using filaments made of carbon. His first successful product was patented in 1879.

What was the problem with light bulbs? ›

The most common culprit is a loose contact connection between the bulb and socket of the light fixture. Resistance between the two can overheat the bulb and shorten its life. Try an appropriately sized bulb to help troubleshoot.

Did Edison find 10 000 ways that won t work? ›

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” - Thomas Edison.

How many tries did it take to invent the lightbulb? ›

The team had executed approximately 1,200 experiments, testing hundreds of materials in the process before hitting upon the winning design. It turned out that baking a piece of coiled cotton thread until it was all carbon was the winning filament.

How did Thomas Edison succeed? ›

Aside from being an inventor, Edison also managed to become a successful manufacturer and businessman, marketing his inventions to the public. A myriad of business liaisons, partnerships, and corporations filled Edison's life, and legal battles over various patents and corporations were continuous.

Did ben franklin say I didn t fail the test I just found 100 ways to do it wrong? ›

I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” Since he was such a good inventor, Franklin felt a lot of pressure after any failed attempts. Mistakes can make us feel like we're not good enough for whatever we're doing, like all of our attempts are in vain, and we might as well just throw in the towel.

What was Thomas Edison's mission? ›

Edison's goal was to create at least one small invention every week and a large, society-changing one every six months. Remarkably, he met that goal with room to spare.

Who owns patent after death? ›

When the inventor dies, he no longer owns the patent, so there is nothing to transfer. However, if the inventor still owns the patent, he can transfer it through a will or trust. If the inventor did not have a will or trust, it will pass to heirs via intestacy law, like every other right.

Who had 300 patents? ›

Globally, Tesla held more than 300 patents. In addition to his 112 U.S. patents, Tesla's patents totaled 192 in 26 other countries. Because of the territorial limitations of patents, many were for the same invention. However, a review of those patents shows that Tesla had 126 basic patents.

Who is the only US president with a patent? ›

(Gilder Lehrman Collection) On March 10, 1849, Abraham Lincoln filed a patent for a device for "buoying vessels over shoals" with the US Patent Office. Patent No. 6,469 was approved two months later, giving Abraham Lincoln the honor of being the only US president to hold a patent.

What did Thomas Edison say to Henry Ford? ›

Edison, who was convinced that electric cars were the way of the future, gave Ford a few words of encouragement on his newly invented quadricycle: "keep at it." Apparently, that little bit of advice was enough to set the foundation of a friendship that would last for the rest of their lives.

Was Thomas Edison Deaf? ›

He spent much of his childhood in Port Huron, Michigan. Was Edison deaf? That is how Edison described himself, but in fact he was not totally deaf. It is more accurate to say he was very hard of hearing.

What was Thomas Edison's favorite? ›

If you ask students what invention Thomas Edison is known for, they might respond by saying, “the light bulb.” However, Edison's favorite invention he ever worked on was the phonograph.

What was Thomas Edison's greatest challenge? ›

Thomas Edison's greatest challenge was the development of a practical incandescent, electric light. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't "invent" the lightbulb, but rather he improved upon a 50-year-old idea.

What is Thomas Edison's least famous invention? ›

Thomas Edison's Electric Pen

This lesser known invention would not only be a precursor to the copy machine, but the tattoo pen as well.

What was Edison's most important invention break through? ›

Edison invented or refined devices that made a profound impact on how people lived. The most famous of his inventions was the incandescent light bulb (1878), which would revolutionize indoor lighting and forever separate light from fire.

What are some odd facts about Thomas Edison? ›

Interesting Thomas Edison Facts

Before his Mom decided to teach him at home, Edison only attended school for 3 months. Thomas Edison was totally deaf in one ear. Edison thought his deafness helped him be a better scientist. In 1862, Edison saved a 3-year-old boy from being run over by a boxcar.

What are 10 facts about Thomas Edison? ›

Try and memorise a few to impress your family and friends!
  • He was married twice. ...
  • A total of 1093 of Edison's inventions were awarded patents. ...
  • His middle name is Alva and his family called him Al.
  • His first two children had the nicknames Dot and Dash.
  • His married his second wife in 1886 when he was 39.
Jan 31, 2023

Is failure a part of life? ›

Failure is a part of life, and if you do not fail, you will not learn, and if you do not learn, you will never change. Failure must be expected along the journey to achieve your goals in life, and be used as a feedback mechanism for getting things right the next time, or next time.

How many times Thomas failed? ›

One of the most famous is Thomas Edison, credited with inventing the carbon telephone transmitter, light bulb, and phonograph. In fact, it took 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before he created the first light bulb.

How long did Edison's light bulb last? ›

By October 1879, Edison's team had produced a light bulb with a carbonized filament of uncoated cotton thread that could last for 14.5 hours.

What was Thomas Edison's accidental invention? ›

Edison went on to hold nearly 1,100 patents and create businesses that applied them to opportunities, but it was his “accidental” invention of the phonograph that brought him his first fame.

What is the most interesting fact about light? ›

Light moves along at full “light speed” — 186,282.4 miles per second — only in a vacuum. In the dense matrix of a diamond, it slows to just 77,500 miles per second.

How long can a light bulb last? ›

The average incandescent bulb light span is approximately 1,000 hours. Fluorescents are a long-lasting option, running for anywhere from 15,000 to upwards of 20,000 hours.

Who actually invented bulb? ›

Did Thomas Jefferson steal the idea of the lightbulb? ›

Answer and Explanation: Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) did not invent the light bulb; this feat is usually attributed to Thomas Edison (1847–1931). Edison filed his first patent for the light bulb on October 14, 1878.

When did Thomas Edison think about the light bulb? ›

In 1878, Thomas Edison began serious research into developing a practical incandescent lamp and on October 14, 1878, Edison filed his first patent application for "Improvement In Electric Lights".

How would your life be if the light bulb was not invented? ›

To name a few, we wouldn't be able to enjoy a nightly stroll, go to restaurants, watch television (we wouldn't be able to find the remote in the dark), and the list can go on forever. When you take a step back and think about it, light bulbs bring people together.

What light bulb was banned? ›

Halogen bulbs and compact fluorescent lights (CFL) will also be banned because of their mercury content. While the ban will be in effect soon, customers can still buy what is left of incandescent lights that are still being sold in stores.

Are light bulbs bad for the environment? ›

The use of artificial light at night also contributes to light pollution in the environment, which can disrupt the behavior of wildlife and contribute to insect biodiversity loss. To conserve energy, the practice of turning the lights off when they're not in use is often recommended.

What did Thomas Edison fear? ›

Perhaps the driving force behind the invention was Thomas Edison was afraid of the dark. That's right, Thomas Edison was afraid of the dark. Thomas Edison revealed his fear of the dark during an interview. When Edison passed away, he died with all the lights in his house turned on.

How many times did Franklin fail? ›

I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.

What did Thomas Edison do when he failed? ›

Summary. In 1899, after a failed attempt at ore mining, Thomas Edison formed the Edison Portland Cement Company.

What is a funny fact about Thomas Edison? ›

Edison had a tattoo on his forearm, a quincunx, like the face of the number “five” on a dice cube. A practical joker was Edison, and he gave as good as he got. His first two children were nicknamed “Dot” and “Dash” in honor of his early telegraph days.

What was Thomas Edison proud of? ›

The invention that Edison was most proud of was not the light bulb, however, but the Phonograph and the movie projector. Edison also introduced celluloid film which was a flexible type of film. Celluloid film helped to start the motion picture industry.

How did Thomas Edison treat his workers? ›

Edison was equally generous and caring with his employees, Balstraz said. When people needed help or were sick and needed money, Edison was there to lend it to them. At the same time, "he was a humorous man who loved a good story.

Did Ben Franklin say an apple a day? ›

Franklin was the first to say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

What famous quote did Benjamin Franklin say? ›

Look before, or you'll find yourself behind.” “Don't throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass.” “He that would live in peace & at ease, Must not speak all he knows or judge all he sees.” “Well done is better than well said.”

How did the Lost State of Franklin fall? ›

Eventually, a few years later, North Carolina decided to give its land back to the Federal Government again. This time, the federal government created a territory. This territory eventually became Tennessee. When this happened, the State of Franklin no longer existed.


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