Did you know? Who invented the light bulb?

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Did you know? Who invented the light bulb?
First answer this in your mind then check this answer.
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No, it wasn’t Thomas Edison. Light bulbs – in particular Starr’s electric lamp – were in use 50 years before Edison applied for the patent in 1879. In addition, British inventor Joseph Swan was awarded a light bulb patent the previous year. Edison went on to make big buck from the light bulb but Swan sued Edison for infringement and won. As part of the settlement, Edison was forced to take Swan in as a partner but later bought him out in the company that was to become General Electric.


In 1883, the US Patent Office ruled that Edison’s patent on the light bulb might have been based on that of William Sawyer and were invalid. It is not that Edison stole the idea: there are many examples of different people thinking up the same concept at more-or-less the same time.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1931) certainly was not a lazy guy. He filed 1,093 patents, including those for electric railways and the movie camera. When he died in 1931, he held 34 patents for the telephone, 141 for batteries, 150 for the telegraph and 389 patents for electric light and power. Unlike Leonardo da Vinci who never built the inventions he designed, Edison was not just a great theorist. He coined the phrase: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” He also said: “There are no rules here. We’re trying to get work done.”

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