Thomas Edison: Patent Application for the Incandescent Light Bulb

(1879)

Thomas Edison's Patent Application for the Incandescent Light Bulb, the first long-lasting, practical electric light bulb, was filed with the United States Patent Office on November 4, 1879, and was granted on January 27, 1880. In the late 1870s gaslight was the primary means used to light residential homes and most businesses. Electric lighting had been conceived of decades earlier, but Edison was the first to produce electric lighting in a safe, feasible, affordable manner.

Edison's patent on an “Improvement in Electric Lamps” gave him the right to exclude anyone else from making, using, or selling his improved light-bulb technology. As a practical matter, it also provided Edison with the opportunity to raise the funding necessary to develop the electric generation and distribution infrastructure necessary to power electric lighting. Power generation and electric lighting would develop hand in hand to light America, and the Edison Electric Light Company would eventually...

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A 1911 photograph of Thomas Edison (Library of Congress)

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