Thomas Edison

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Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison (11 February 1847 – 18 October 1931) was an American inventor and businessman who developed and held patents for many pioneering devices and had an important role in creating the modern age of electricity. Edison was also one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He is often credited with establishing the first industrial research laboratory.


Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park" (now Edison, New Jersey) by a newspaper reporter, he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large teamwork to the process of invention, and therefore is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory. Oskar von Miller showed Thomas Alva Edison a 1000 horsepower generator during his visit to Berlin in 1889.[1]

Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,093 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison originated the concept and implementation of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. His first power station was on Manhattan Island, New York.

Light bulb

In the 19th century, two Germans -- glassblower Heinrich Geissler and physician Julius Plücker -- discovered that they could produce light by removing almost all of the air from a long glass tube and passing an electrical current through it, an invention that became known as the Geissler tube. A type of discharge lamp, these lights didn’t gain popularity until the early 20th century when researchers began looking for a way to improve lighting efficiency. Discharge lamps became the basis of many lighting technologies, including neon lights, low-pressure sodium lamps (the type used in outdoor lighting such as streetlamps) and fluorescent lights. Both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla experimented with fluorescent lamps in the 1890s, but neither ever commercially produced them. Instead, it was Peter Cooper Hewitt’s breakthrough in the early 1900s that became one of the precursors to the fluorescent lamp. Hewitt created a blue-green light by passing an electric current through mercury vapor and incorporating a ballast (a device connected to the light bulb that regulates the flow of current through the tube). While the Cooper Hewitt lamps were more efficient than incandescent bulbs, they had few suitable uses because of the color of the light.[2]

Johann Heinrich Christoph Conrad Göbel (b. 20 April 1818 in Springe, Kingdom of Hanover, German Confederation; d. 4 December 1893 in New York) was a German-born American precision mechanic and inventor. In 1848, he emigrated to New York City, where he resided until his death. He received American citizenship in 1865. In 1893, magazines and newspapers reported, Göbel had developed incandescent light bulbs comparable to those invented in 1879 by Thomas Alva Edison 25 years earlier. Göbel did not apply for a patent. In 1893, the Edison Electric Light Company sued three manufacturers of incandescent lamps for infringing Edison's patent. The defense of these companies claimed the Edison patent was void because of the same invention by Göbel 25 years earlier, which came to be known as the "Göbel defense". In some countries, he is recognized as the true inventor of the practical incandescent light bulb. Göbel acquired patents for an improvement of sewing machines (1865), for an improvement of the Geissler pump (1882) and for a technique to connect carbon threads to metal wires in incandescent lamps (1882).

Werner von Siemens practically invented the first generator to produce electricity in 1866 with his dynamo machine. After solving initial problems, this machine reached operational maturity in 1870. This also marked the beginning of the electrification of Germany. However, the first electricity was only used for lighting various facilities. Although Thomas Alva Edison is considered the inventor of the light bulb, he was not. He was merely enterprising enough to be the first to apply for a patent for it. The German, Heinrich Göbel, had already developed a working light bulb in 1854. That is why the first electric lights were already in use in Germany before Edison’s light bulb was available. For example, the factory rooms of the Friedrich-Krupp-Werke in Essen were already lit electrically in 1876. This was followed by the illumination of the post office building, the Kaisergalerie and the Reichstag in Berlin within a year from 1878. The first public street lighting was inaugurated in 1882 at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin with 36 electric street lamps.[3]

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