Thomas Alva Edison, was a small town, country boy who became a United States inventor. He is the most famous of all Americans to make a career of inventing; Edison was called the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” which was his laboratory for sometime, found in New Jersey. He was especially important for his electrical inventions.
Like many inventors of his era, Edison struggled to perfect a system of practical electrical home lighting. He experimented with arc lighting in 1875, but became convinced that successful home lighting would have to be incandescent; that is, use a material that would glow when an electric current passed through it, but not burn in the process. He studied earlier experiments and in 1878 announced that he had the technical problems solved and would create a practical incandescent lamp within six months.
The greatest problem was not creating a light for others had done that before but finding a filament that would not quickly burn out, and producing the lamp cheaply enough to compete with gas lighting. Edison began by experimenting with carbon as a filament, but rejected it and tried using platinum. He discovered that a platinum filament would have to be very thin to provide the resistance necessary for use in the high- voltage electrical system he envisioned. However, when made thin enough, the filaments were too fragile and broke. After numerous experiments with platinum, Edison returned to carbon filaments.
In October, 1879, Edison and his assistants began to experiment with a filament made of carbonized cotton thread. Enclosed in a glass bulb with a near- perfect vacuum, it shed a bright light and burned for many hours. The practical incandescent lamp had become a reality.
Edison and his assistants continued to search for a better filament material. They tried carbonized paper, and tested some species of vegetable fibers. They have experimented bamboo, then Tungsten and the Nitrogen for vacuum, but essentially Edison’s lamp was the same as those used today.
The incandescent lamp or the electric light bulb brought new opportunities for Edison and to his country, America. Several new industries, including the electric light and power industry, were built based on his invention. He was awarded 1, 093 United States patents. One of his great...