Bringing Electricity To The Masses Essay

1132 words - 5 pages

It was not very long ago that as night descended the cities, towns, and homes of the world fell into darkness as well. Lit by candles, oil lamps, gas lamps, and open flame, the light put off by these flames was not very bright and also had the down fall of producing fumes, smoke, and ash. “The electric light was little more than a novelty for the wealthy and only had small scale applications where only a few bulbs would be needed.” (Flatow 11) If we think about how dependent on electricity we are today, it becomes difficult to imagine the world as we know it without it. Our cars, computers, cell phones, almost every facet of our modern life involves electricity. It wasn’t till a young scientist; Thomas Alva Edison had the idea to create a light bulb with a corresponding electrical system, that affordable electricity and lighting could be conceived, so with the help of his fellow scientist and not to mention some controversy, Edison worked tirelessly in his lab in Menlo Park to bring electricity to America and the World.
“Edison began tinkering with the electric light in November of 1877, but he had not been the first to invent the incandescent light bulb. In fact for some forty years prior to Edison’s attempt, inventors from all across the globe, from France and England to Russia and America all had attempted to produce a bulb that could illuminate brightly while also being safe.” (Jones 55) Most met with the same results. A working model that would burnout too quickly, was not safe, or produce too dim or too bright of a light. Edison’s early attempts too met with the same type of results. He experimented in both incandescent and arch lighting . The arch lights required a large amount of electricity to pass between electrodes and produced a blinding light, making it less feasible for use in homes. An advantage Edison research did have over the others was he arrived later in the game. He was able to study the trial and errors of his colleagues and succeed where they had failed. “Another advantage for Edison was that he decided to build his light bulb around an entire electrical system of his own design. He would design and produce generators to supply electricity with integrated fuses to regulate and control it.” (Flatow 11) Once the system which would power his bulb was designed he began work on designing the bulb itself.
The young inventor began to experiment with different filament materials and shapes. He soon discovered that no matter what he tried the filament would melt shortly after a current was run through it. To resolve this Edison had developed “a thermal regulator to prevent the incandescing element of his lamp from melting” says biographer and Edison scholar Paul Israel (Jones 55-56) What this meant was as the filament heated up, the regulator would turn the light off briefly to allow it to cool. This gave Edison the confidence to announce that he had made a breakthrough, though he had not perfected the type of material used to...

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