Considered to be the most significant invention since man created fire, the history of the incandescent light bulb pre-dates to 1802 when platinum and iridium filaments were first incorporated.


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Platinum and Iridium Filaments in Lighting

In 1802, Humphrey Davy successfully passed current through a platinum strip, creating the world’s first incandescent light bulb. In his first experiments, he managed to generate a glow, but it did not last long. Even so, this moment literally sparked a movement where inventors made use of platinum and iridium to improve on the concept. Talk about a DIY way to bring light to the masses!

The next notable milestone was passed by Frederick de Moleyns, who used a platinum filament in an evacuated glass tube as a light bulb in 1841. The only hiccup with his invention was the bulb went black, preventing maximum light output. This blackening of the side of the bulb and the filament occasionally catching fire became a problem for his successors too. Using platinum was also quite expensive.

Other inventors realised that having a vacuum in the bulb would address the problem of blackening and increase the lifespan of their bulbs. Creating the vacuum was a challenge that inventors in this era faced.


Using Paper and Carbonised Threads

The period between 1860 and 1883 saw massive strides in light bulb technology. Both Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan managed to invent light bulbs that could last for a reasonable period of time.

Joseph Swan made use of carbonised paper for his filaments, while Thomas Edison used carbonised sewing thread. However Edison was successful in getting his inside a vacuum while Swan’s invention only made use of a partial vacuum. Edison used carbonised sewing thread until 1880 where after he used paper Bristol board, a move which saw the light bulb lifespan increase to 600 hours.

Edison’s bulb was successful because he was able to heat the bulb simultaneously while pumping out the air using a Sprengle pump.


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Bamboo and Cellulose Make Appearances in Light Bulb Filaments

It is said that Thomas Edison was using an Oriental fan on a hot day, and when he unwound the bamboo and decided to carbonise it and test it for use as a filament. After this experiment, bamboo presented a much more cost-effective filament solution than platinum. By electroplating the bamboo onto the wire lead-ins, platinum clamps were no longer required. Later on, carbon paste was used to stick the bamboo onto the lead-in wires.

In 1881, Joseph Swan started using cellulose filament. These were replaced later by General Electric’s GEM Lamp Filaments.


Tantalum Filaments are Introduced

From 1902, inventors and innovators started using tantalum, making it the first metallic filament available. Tantalum has a high melting point and was the filament of choice until 1909. After this, sintered tungsten became more popular because it was more ductile.

Once William Coolidge discovered how to make tungsten less brittle and more efficient, tungsten began to dominate the market and is still in use in incandescent lamps today. However, it certainly isn't the energy efficient light source that the LED has become.

The incandescent light may have been in use for more than 120 years, but now it needs to give way to more efficient and cost-effective options: LEDs. These LEDs are found in just about anything, ranging from LED Panels to typical sized light bulbs as well.

Now you know the past become part of the future with LED bulbs from >>

 You'd be surprised what the modern LED can offer. LED Strip Lights are fun ways to bring extra light into a room, and did we mention they're some of the longest lasting bulbs on the market?

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