Year of Innovation: January's Featured Exhibit is Edison's Electric Lighting System_1
January 10, 2014
Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison didn't "invent" the light bulb, but rather he improved upon a 50-year-old idea. In October of 1879 in his lab at Menlo Park, New Jersey, he was able to produce a reliable, long-lasting source of light, using lower current electricity, a small carbonized filament and an improved vacuum inside the globe. After one and a half years of work, he achieved success when an incandescent lamp with a filament of carbonized sewing thread burned for thirteen and a half hours. Edison and his team also designed a system for producing and distributing electric light and power, and created companies to manufacture and market this system in the United States and other countries.
The lamps in this exhibit case are part of the William J. Hammer Collection. Hammer assisted in the development of Edison’s incandescent electric lamp in Menlo Park, and he later set up central stations in the United States and Europe. He collected various examples of the Edison lamp as well as pioneering lamps by other inventors. After his death in 1934, the collection was purchased by General Electric, located in the Greenfield Village Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and eventually transferred to the Edison Museum in West Orange in 1949.
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Did You Know?
Henry Hudson Holly was a famous architect known for designing Victorian style houses such as the Glenmont Estate, the home of Thomas Edison. Edison was so impressed by Holly’s work that he commissioned Holly to design his personal library in the laboratory, which is located down the street from the estate. However, Edison did not like the pace at which Holly was working, and he was eventually fired.