The Invention of the Light Bulb

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The topic of the following research is devoted to the invention of the light bulb and its role and necessity in present life. There are a lot of aspects concerning this topic: what is the purpose of this invention and its role for the society? Where is it exactly used and can it be replaced by other similar innovation?

In this research, there will be a research and discussion concerning the history of this innovation, information about the innovator and the main purpose of this invention. However, this paper would also cover the information about the part of the innovation, material that was used for its creation, main process of operation and principles of its work.

It is essential to underline the essential role of this innovation in people’s life. The processes that led to its creation were rather long and required a lot of efforts and attempts to be made. Before the light bulb invention, there was no opportunity to get a stable source of light at night and day time. People were using candles or oil lamps to get some light. These methods were hard to consider convenient and easy to use. There is no doubt that the electric light bulb provides more bright light, and it is easy to use as there are no difficulties in its replacement and changing. However, the bright light of electric bulb gives an opportunity to read, write and do other activities with the convenient and safe source of light. One more significant value of the light bulb can be connected with the present reality. This innovation plays a crucial role not only in terms of the personal use and convenience. Moreover, the secure and safety on the city streets increase with the innovation described above.

The principle of its work now seems rather easy to understand. However, long time ago, people did not have an idea that one day they would have such safe and easy way of using the source of light. The invention of the light bulb is considered the hot point in the technical innovation process of all times. It gives a start to rather different innovations connected with the electricity. Today, one can state that this invention really plays a highly significant role for the entire society.

Background of the Invention

In fact, the light bulb changed the human world .It provides a lot of human activity and a substantial range of additional possibilities

A long process occurs before the invention of the electric bulb, as we know it today. Thomas Alva Edison invented it in 1879. He was not the first and not the only person, who tried to invent the light bulb. However, there were hundreds of wrong attempts before getting the positive result of the research. He was an outstanding inventor of all time, and he had a strong will that led him to the expected success.

Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847, and he was a remarkable American inventor and strategic scientist, who presented a number of innovations to the whole world. He was the founder of numerous technical innovations such as a light bulb, phonograph, motion picture camera, and some others. He was the first inventor to use properly the main principles of the mass production and teamwork. However, his name is often connected with the creation of first laboratories that conducted different types of industrial research.

It is essential to note that Edison is considered one of the four most prolific inventors in history. He was holding 1,093 US patents in his name. Moreover, he obtained numerous patents in the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany.

However, not only Edison's patents have had a significant impact on the technological development of the world, but his inventions that initiated the further development and improvement of technologies. His devices contributed towards the beginning of the new technological era. It is difficult to imagine the world without devices that are the part of people’s everyday life now.

Edison's inventions have a significant influence on the mass communication, especially on the telecommunications. We are speaking about such inventions as a stock ticker, mechanical vote recorder, battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music, and of course, motion pictures.

Edison was not the inventor by his character, but he started to work as the telegraph operator. In this field, he began to think about different kinds of improvement of the telegraph work. Edison was the first to invent and develop a specific system of electric-power generators and its proper distribution directly to homes, organizations, as well as different kinds of factories and plants. This was a significant innovation, as the industrial era required new technical equipment that would have provided the productive forces with some additional abilities.

It is pivotal to underline that Edison`s first power station was situated on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York.

Thomas Alva Edison began his early career as an inventor in New Jersey. His first attempts were connected with the automatic repeater and a range of other telegraphic devices. However, he did not succeed as the inventor. His first fame came to him with the invention of the phonograph in 1877. This innovation was a new, unexpected stream that did not appear suddenly, but was rather unexpected by the ordinary. From those times, Thomas Edison became recognized as the “The Wizard of Menlo Park” from New Jersey (Lee, 2007).

Edison`s first phonograph was not an excellent innovation. It had its problems in terms of the quality of design and sound. However, it seems to be insignificant when speaking about such global inventions. There would be hundreds of years to improve these small flaws. One of the most popular scientist of the US and the former president of the National Academy of Sciences, Joseph Henry, is considered himself to be the one of the most renowned electrical scientists in the US. He was the one to criticize the inventions of young Thomas Alva Edison.

In April 1878, Edison took a long trip with the main aim to demonstrate the phonograph before the National Academy of Sciences, Congressmen, Senators and the US President Hayes. There was a lot of information in mass media concerning this issue. The Washington Post described Edison as a "genius", and his innovations were said to be the part of the history of technology. Moreover, Edison succeeded in obtaining a patent for his phonograph in 1878.

Thomas Alva Edison was said to be the most responsible person that took care about the development of a new technological world that would be full of different devices and technologies. He received maximum attention from the side of the society and government. In fact, he was glad to pay attention of people on their future perspectives and possibilities. It was rather difficult to believe that some childish dreams and ideas were coming to be real.

Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in a usual, middle-class family. His family was always working hard to provide him with all the needed things. He had a lot of prosperous possibilities from the times of his early childhood. Thus, his mother attended to his needs (Israel, 1998).

When he was 12 years old, he started to show his real interest to the science. Edison was extremely interested in getting new information all the time. There was a strong need in a tutor that would have provided young Edison with private lessons. Soon after such need appeared, it was realized, and Thomas got the opportunity to learn as much as possible

He became responsible rather early. From 12 years, he was trying to help his family. First things he used to do were selling newspapers, then fruits, vegetables and so on. Two year later, at the age of 14, he became more independent and self-responsible. Thus, at that age, he was earning around 80 percent of the income he got. Then, he started to travel around the country in the search of a better life (Solomon, 2001).

However, at the age of 29, he moved into a new laboratory on Menlo Park, and in 1877, he already invented the first phonograph. Thomas understood that to succeed he needed a lot of time to be spent and efforts to be made in terms of developing his ideas that were possible to use in real life.

After a long period without inventions, a new idea came to Edison. This idea concerned the invention of an electric bulb. Finally, he succeeded in 1878 and invented an electric light bulb that was already mentioned above in the paper. However, this was not an exceptional invention of Thomas Edison. This was just a good start that encouraged him for new ideas and projects. He often used all the opportunities and possibilities to improve the world around him. He believed that our life depends only on us: our ideas, plans, and actions. We are what we do. Thomas Alva Edison was never losing his time for things that were not significant and developed negative sides of a human character.

Thomas Alva Edison died on October 18, 1931, at the age of 84. He was in coma for a long period of time. This was a tragedy that his relatives expected to happen. There is no such death that can be expected, but, probably, it was possible to see and analyze the situation and feel the changes that were likely to happen ( Jehl, 2002).

Material of the Bulb and the Operational Process

The innovations that were left after his death are still being widely used and improved. In this sense, the light bulb is one of his significant inventions. How does it work and what is it made of? The filaments in the light bulb condense due to the high temperature. First, light bulbs were without air in them, there was only vacuum. Later, it was known that filling the light bulb with inert gases as argon and nitrogen reduced the evaporation of the filament. Inert gases are the ones, which do not react with other items. Not a lot of time ago, the gas krypton started to be used, because it provides a brighter light as the filament burns at higher temperatures.

A light bulb has a simple structure. At the base, it has two metal contacts, which are connected to the end of the electrical circuit. The metal contacts are attached to two stiff wires, which are attached to a thin metal filament. The filament is in the middle of the bulb and filled with inert gas. It may be argon or nitrogen. When the bulb is plugged into the power system, an electric current goes from one contact to another through the wires and filament. The electric current is a mass movement of free electrons. As they go through the filament, they are bumping into the atoms and that is making up the filament. A thinner conductor bumps up more easily than a thicker conductor; it is more resistant to the movement of electrons. Electrons in the vibrating atoms can boost temporally to a higher level .When they fall back to the ordinary levels, the electrons are being released to the first form photons. It is invisible for the human eye. If they are heated to the high level condition, it may cause a good lightening effect. The filament is a long thin length of tungsten metal.

A metal of filament should be heated to maximum temperatures, just before it emits an amount of light. A lot of metals are already melting before they reach the maximum temperature. Light bulbs are made of tungsten filaments, because they are used to the highest temperatures. Tungsten can be caught on the fire only if all the conditions are right. The combustion happens when there is a reaction between two materials. In our life, the combustion occurs when oxygen and other heated materials interact.

The problem is the evaporation of tungsten atoms. When they evaporate, there are chances to collide with argon atoms and go toward to the filament, where they are joined with the solid structure. Atoms evaporate, and the glass of the bulb becomes darker and darker. In modern bulbs, inert gases reduce this process. Inert gases do not react with other elements.


A light bulb is a cheap and the most famous way to bring the light in people’s homes. Time will pass and open the new horizons to the new inventions. In the past, light bulbs produced more heat than light. Now, we have low watt light bulbs, which produce a plenty of light. There are a lot of types of light bulbs. What will the future bring to us? New inventions appear in the present reality rather rapidly. However, there is a range of already existing ones that will stay in our life for all the time. A light bulb is such invention. You may choose between different models of phone or TV set, but you will always use the light at your home, office and etc. There is a strong need in this innovation. Forms and colors can change, but the essence and the operational principles are still the same. If we need the light, we turn on the light bulb. It is so easy today. Thus, it is already hard to imagine our life without such simple and useful things that surround us in the everyday life.