Home: It’s Electrifying – 100 years of energy

As far as it is known, early attempts at man-made lighting happened about 70,000 years ago. The first lamp was invented made of a shell, hollowed-out rock, or something similar which wouldn’t set fire which was filled with stuff that would burn (probably dried grass or wood), with added animal fat (the original lighter fluid) and lit.

Over time, materials such as pottery and alabaster were used. Wicks were included in the lamp to control the rate of burning. About the 7th century BC, the Greeks began making terra cotta lamps to replace handheld torches. The word lamp comes from the Greek word lampas which means torch.

Lamp developments evolved but still used the same basic concept – control the burning of a fuel (natural oils, waxes, and the like) with wicks, tubes, chimneys, vents, and other similar devices, and put it in an attractive and/or practical recepticle.

It would be many centuries until the next big thing in lighting would be developed.

The first electric lamp was the CARBON-ARC LAMP, showcased in 1801 by Sir Humphrey Davy, an English chemist. Electric lights rose in popularity once the incandescent lamp was invented independently by Sir Joseph Swan in England and Thomas Edison in the United States. Edison patented his invention in 1880 and has made it the commercial success of today.

In the 1800s electric lights were in use, but they were messy, expensive, noisy, too bright, and not very practical. They could only be used outdoors and gas lights and candles were predominantly used to light  homes and offices. The race to find a better way to make light using electricity was on.

In 1860, English inventor Sir Joseph Wilson Swan created the first electric light bulb. The bulb was not usable because the filament burned up too rapidly. Swan over time improved his invention and presented the world’s first bulb light demonstration in 1878. But the bulb was still not practical because of the short life of the filament.

In 1878, Edison declared that his company would deliver the first practical light bulb. He used Lewis Latimer’s carbon filament to make a bulb grow brighter and last longer and his company installed a glass-blowing shed at the lab to make the bulbs.

Eventually in the same year Edison and his team of scientists discovered the answer. “The Wizard” received a patent and began work on more devices to make the light bulb available for the wider public. Beyond his 300 other inventions relating to the light bulb he also invented generators, cables, switches, fuses, and sockets. Edison’s bulbs were initially installed on a steamship and in a New York City factory. Edison Electric was the first organisation to build a power station, to generate and control electricity for an entire area.

Whilst Swan’s original low-voltage, high-current invention is still used in flashlights and used in automobiles, Edison is considered to be the inventor of the light bulb because he made it useful.

Edison’s Legacy
Edison developed more inventions than almost anyone and also continued improving his own and other people’s inventions throughout his lifetime. Before he died in 1931, “Edison’s Pioneers” was created – a select group of scientists working together to keep Edison’s ideas ignited.

How far we have come EON energy now offer customers Smart Meters.

  • It’s free to have a smart meter installed
  • No need to give them meter readings, your smart meter will take care of it
  • No more estimated bills
  • You can see how much energy you’re using and how much it costs in real time with your Smart Energy Display

This post is brought to you in partnership with E.ON Energy. See if you could save money with their gas and electricity deals today. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


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