from the funny-how-that-works dept
The story highlights how the incandescent lightbulb was really a function of progressive innovation, with different people adding little bits here and there:
English chemist Humphry Davy connected two wires to a battery in 1809 and inserted a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires. The strip glowed, making it the first electric lamp.From there, it details how Joseph Swan built the first real "electric lamp" building on those concepts. Swan did get a patent on his work, but it didn't actually work all that well. Edison's revelation was to make a minor tweak to Swan's work, making the incandescent bulb last much longer. It wasn't an "invention" at all. It was a minor tweak on top of it, and then a massive promotional campaign. Of course, Edison originally couldn't do as much with his better lightbulb, because Swan held that patent... so eventually Edison ended up merging with Swan's company... and took all the credit for the incandescent bulb. And from then on, he used patents to keep everyone else out for as long as possible.
Inventor Warren De la Rue about 10 years later enclosed a platinum coil in an evacuated tube and passed electric current through it to make it glow.