Did Edison Invent the Lightbulb? Yes and no!

Is Edison the inventor of the lightbulb

Thomas Edison is often credited with inventing the lightbulb, but is that really the case? In this blog post, we will devote ourselves to the topic and clarify whether Edison actually invented the light bulb.

The history of electric lighting

To understand why Edison didn't invent the lightbulb, we need to review the history of electric lighting. The use of electrical energy to illuminate rooms had been considered since the 1820s. Several inventors, including Joseph Swan and Hiram Maxim, experimented with electric lamps, but their designs were unreliable and often burned out after a short time.

lightbulb-inventors-list
The list of inventors who were involved in the concept of the lightbulb (Graphic: Wikipedia).

A total of six inventors for the lightbulb are listed:

  • Thomas Alva Edison
  • joseph wilson swan
  • James Bowman Lindsey
  • Alexander Nikolayevich Lodygin
  • Hiram Maxim
  • Alexander Cruto

Edison developed his own lightbulb by building on the research of others. He experimented with different materials for the filament until he finally found a durable solution made out of carbon fiber. This development was a milestone in the history of electrical engineering and led to the mass production of light bulbs.

Proven: The German Heinrich Göbel did not invent them

The study by Hans-Christian Rohde shows that the legend that Heinrich Göbel invented the light bulb is a hoax. The legend arose from a dispute over the copyright of the light bulb. When Edison and his Electric Light Company began using the incandescent lamp industrially, other companies also began making light bulbs. When Edison took legal action against his imitators, Göbel claimed to have manufactured electric bulbs before 1873. Hundreds of witnesses corroborated this account, but it turned out to be a hoax.

Hans-Christian Rohde has dealt intensively with the files of the trial, the life documents of Heinrich Göbel and the technical history of electric light. His conclusion is that Göbel did not invent the lightbulb. While Göbel was a trained locksmith, he did not have the physical knowledge or resources necessary to design a lightbulb. The model depicted on the German stamp would not have worked, proving that Göbel did not invent the lightbulb.

Edison developed urban power distribution

In addition to the light bulb, Edison also developed a complete power supply system that made it possible to distribute electrical energy in large cities. His work was an important contribution to the development of electrical engineering and has enriched our daily lives.

In the modern world, however, the incandescent bulb has long been obsolete and is being replaced by LED lights and other energy-efficient lighting solutions. Despite this, Edison's contribution to the history of technology remains unforgotten and continues to be celebrated as a milestone in the history of electrical engineering.

thomas edison photo
The gentleman in the photo looks like Thomas Edison, but the photo was created by the Midjourney AI. It's not a real photo.

Edison's contributions to electrical engineering

In summary, while Edison did not invent the lightbulb, he was still an important contributor to the development of electrical engineering. His vision, dedication and ability to build on the research of others have helped make electrical engineering what it is today. The importance of previous research and development should not be underestimated, for without it the light bulb as we know it today would not have been possible.

Thomas Edison made many significant contributions to electrical engineering. Here are some of his key accomplishments:

  1. Lightbulb: Although Edison wasn't the first to invent the lightbulb, he developed a durable carbon fiber solution and was instrumental in popularizing the lightbulb.
  2. Power System: Edison developed a complete power system that made it possible to distribute electrical power in large cities.
  3. Kinetoscope: Edison developed a precursor to modern cinema, the Kinetoscope. This device made it possible to view moving images.
  4. Phonograph: Edison also invented the phonograph, a precursor to the modern record player. This device made it possible to make sound recordings and play them back.
  5. Electrical Telegraphy: Edison also worked on the development of electrical telegraphy, helping to spread electrical communications.

Overall, Thomas Edison made a variety of significant contributions to electrical engineering that continue to influence our daily lives to this day.

Here is a computer graphic of how Midjourney imagines the prototype of the first lightbulb.
Here is a computer graphic of how Midjourney imagines the prototype of the first lightbulb.

Conclusion: Many inventors involved in the lightbulb

It is important to acknowledge the contribution of all inventors involved when it comes to understanding the history of the lightbulb. We should strive to always see the story in the context of all the people and events involved in order to gain a full and balanced understanding.

I hope I was able to give a better understanding of why Edison didn't invent the lightbulb. It's important to always see the story in context and appreciate the contribution of everyone involved to gain a full understanding.

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