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A Short History of Electric Light

by Frank Andrews

Calendar of Electric Lighting Development.

1600 Dr Gilbert’s paper on Static Electricity published
1676 Electric discharge in mercury barometer tubes noted
1791 Faraday born
1796 Volta demonstrated the Voltaic Cell
1801 Electric incandescence discovered, de Thenard (France)
1805 Davy discovered electric incandescence (Platinum)
1808 Davy demonstrated Electric Arc at Royal Society Lecture
1809 Incandescent platinum in glass tube by De La Rue (UK)
1812 Coal gas lighting introduced in UK.
1816 Werner Siemens born in Germany
1819 Foucault born (France)
1820 First platinum filament in vacuum, de la Rive (Swiss)
1828 Swan born.
1831 Faraday & Henry discovered Electro-Magnetic induction
1832 Crookes born.
1833 Faraday given Chair of Chemistry at Royal Institution
1835 James B Lindsay, Scotland. First Carbon filament.
1838 Carbon to incandescence in vacuum, Jobard (Belgium)
1839 Limelight developed by Captain Drummond (UK)
1840 Maxim born
Platinum filament, William Grove (UK)
Effect of air in a lamp De La Rue (UK)
1841 Carbon rod in vacuum, M. J. Roberts
Carbon powder between platinum coils, de Moleyns
1842 Siemens developed electroplating process
1844 Joseph Deleuil demonstrated arc lamp in Paris
1845 Starr-King Platinum lamp patented
1846 J. W. Draper produced a Platinum wire lamp (US)
W. E. Staite, weight driven arc lamp mechanism
1847 Edison born
Cruto born (Italy)
Jablochoff born in Russia
Siemens & Halske formed partnership
W E Staite demonstrated Platinum-Iridium lamp
1848 Staite patented horseshoe shaped Iridium element lamp
Heinrich Göebel emigrated to USA
1848 Swan started work on light bulb in England
1850 E. C. Shephard bulb with carbon blocks
1852 Graphite rod bulb by M. J. Roberts (UK)
1853 Compagnie De l’Alliance formed in France
1854 Göebel made first carbon filament bulb (USA) (verified).
Sinsteden invented a storage battery
W E Staite died
1856 Geissler tubes demonstrated
Open filament lamp used in mines, de Changy (France)
1858 Electric Generator at South Foreland Lighthouse
Moses Farmer lit room in his house with Platinum lamps
Compagnie De l’Alliance lit South Foreland Lighthouse
1860 Swan made incandescent paper filament
1863 Edison invented Telegraph repeater
Compagnie De l’Alliance lit LeHéve Lighthouse
1864 Nernst born in Germany
1865 Isaac Adams carbon strip lamp in a tube (USA)
Sprengel invented mercury drop vacuum pump
1866 Dynamo developed independently in several countries
Siemens developed simple and cheap ‘Dynamo’ in Germany
Pure copper produced electrolytically
1867 Faraday died aged 76.
1872 Carbon block bulbs in nitrogen, A M Lodyguine (Russia)
1875 First Arc Lamps installed in Mülhausen, France
Konn, carbon rod, Russia
1876 Jablochoff invented electric candle arc lamp (Russia)
Edison concentrated on invention.
C. F. Brush (USA) developed an Arc lamp and dynamo
Brush Electric Co. formed in USA
Bouliguine, graphite rod lamp, Russia
1877 Jablochoff’s candle installed at Louvre, Paris
Compagnie Générale d’electricité formed in France
1878 Swan demonstrated his first incandescent lamp
Visit to Wallace inspired Edison to develop lamp
Edison demonstrated his six months after Swan (Platinum)
St. George Lane-Fox patented Platinum-Iridium filament
Swan manufacturing Arc lamps
Arc lamps installed on Thames Embankment, London, UK,
Arc lamps in railway station Glasgow, Scotland
Sawyer & Man developed arched paper filament lamp
Siemens developed differential arc lamp (Germany)
1879 Swan demonstrated carbon lamp (UK) 3rd February.
Maxim patented Platinum lamp (Beats Edison & Draper)
Edison gave demonstration of Platinum lamps
Edison demonstrated carbon filament bulb on 21st October
Edison applied for UK patent for carbon filament
Brush Electric Co. invented Automatic Voltage Regulator
Brush Arcs installed at Wannamakers Store, Philadelphia
Crompton developed differential arc lamp (UK)
1880 Swan perfected his incandescent cotton lamp
Swan patented manufacturing process
Edison perfected carbonised paper bulb
Edison lamps installed on S.S. Columbia
Cruto demonstrates first synthetic carbon filament bulb
Screw base introduced
Siemens & Halske developed differential arc lamp
Brush Electric Co., USA invented dual solenoid arc lamp
Sawyer & Man patented their bulb (see 1878)
Bulbs sold at Ł2 each
GEC ( UK ) started in City of London
Spring loaded bulb holder by C H Gimingham
1881 Worlds first generating station for electric lighting, opened at Godalming, UK
Power station opened in Berlin
Swans Electric Light Company Ltd. formed
Swan produced tall straight light bulbs
Swan developed Tamodine filament
Swan bulbs installed at House of Commons, London
Maxim developed ‘M’ shaped carbonised paper filament
Filament lights used in street in Newcastle UK
Over 4,000 Jablochoff candles in use now
Rathenau marketed Edison bulbs in Germany
1882 New York got first power station
Cruto marketed his bulb, Italy
Electric Lighting Act. UK
Power station at Brighton UK
Brush Electric Co. bought Fox-Lane patents
1882 Ferranti manufactured arc lamps
Siemens manufactured Swan bulbs in Germany
1883 Swan United Electric Light Company Ltd. formed
Swan & Edison combined as Edison-Swan Electrical Co.
Cruto developed a new version of his filament
Cruto exhibited his bulb at Munich Exhibition
German Edison Company established in Germany
1884 Hells Gate illuminated by Arc Lamps, 27,000 cp. (USA)
Brush introduced the Bayonet cap (Lane-Fox design).
Vitrilite bayonet cap introduced
B.T.H. Ltd. formed in UK
1885 FERRANTI bulbs sold in London for short period
1886 Edison & Swan achieved monopoly with patents
First house to house wiring. Crompton (UK)
Auer von Welsbach invents Incandescent Gas Mantle
1887 German Edison Company renamed AEG in Germany
1888 Electric Lighting Act. UK
1889 Bremmer developed Flame Arc Lamp
1890 Full range of Electric household appliances available
Most light bulbs fitted with brass or ceramic cap by now
Bulbs available from 3cp to 2,000 cp.
Bulbs sold at 2s. each
1891 Gerard Philips started to make carbon lamps (Netherlands)
1893 Russian Lodyguine plated platinum wire with tungsten
US court recognised Göebel bulb as prior to Edison
Edison’s UK patent expired 11th November.
ROBERTSON bulbs manufactured in UK by G.E.C.
1894 Moore developed Moore tube.
1897 Nernst ‘A’ & ‘B’ lamps produced
1898 Auer von Welsbach invents Osmium filament
First Moore tube installation (USA)
1899 Electric Lighting Act. UK
1900 Svea Lamp Company making coloured bulbs
1901 Cooper-Hewitt demonstrated fluorescent tube. (Mercury)
1902 Osmium filament marketed by Auer
Moore tube got internal electrodes
AEG took over Nernst Electric Light Co.
Zirconium carbide filament by Hollefreund (Germany)
Switched two filament lamp. (Economical Lamp Co.) USA
1903 Tungsten filament made by A Just & F Hanaman (Austria)
Tantalum filament made by Dr. Werner Bolton and Freurlin (Siemens) (Germany)
1905 Tantalum Filament introduced world-wide by Siemens
Squirted tungsten developed by Hans Kunzel (Auer Company). (Germany)
Anti-dazzle car lamp patented by H. Salsbury in USA
W. Whitney’s GEM ‘metallised’ carbon filament (G E USA)
1906 Auer marketed tungsten lamp as OSRAM
1907 Auer’s OSRAM bulbs sold by G.E.C. in UK
Drawn Tungsten filament WOTAN by Siemens & Halske
Carl von Linde (France) & Claude developed neon light.
1908 G.E.C. started to manufacture OSRAM bulbs in UK
Non Ductile Tungsten filament METFIL by Royal EdiSwan
Philips introduced tungsten filament bulb
High pressure mercury lamp introduced by Westinghouse Co.
1909 240v 50cp tungsten bulb cost 4s 9d each
16cp Carbon bulb cost 9d
MAZDA tungsten lamp by General Electric (USA)
1910 OSRAM non ductile tungsten produced
Carbon bulbs sold for 9d.
OSRAM bulbs sold for 2s 3d to 3s
Tantalum sold for 1s 6d to 2s
Ductile tungsten developed by W C Coolidge (USA)
1911 General Electric market Coolidge bulb as OSRAM bulb(US)
1912 Robertson produces 250 watt radiator lamp
1913 Coiled Filament introduced by Langmuir (G E USA)
Nitrogen gas used for the first time commercially
Osram GEC ATMOS (Half Watt) bulb, Nitrogen & coiled.
DUMET replaced Platinum as lead-in wire (Better seal).
1914 Swan died
Capless bulbs for car lamps still made
Philips produced ductile tungsten lamps ARGA & ½ WATT
Osram GEC switched to Argon gas filling in ATMOS lamp
1916 Maxim died
1917 Non-sag tungsten filament developed
1918 Argon gas used
1919 Pipless bulbs appeared.
Osram formed by Auer, AEG and Siemens in Germany
Electricity supply Act UK. Failed to co-ordinate supplies
1921 10% of UK homes wired for electricity
1922 Very high power tungsten bulbs developed
1924 Dipping car bulb patented by W Fenton (USA)
Two filament car bulb patented by A Graves (USA)
1925 Internal frosting introduced
1926 Electricity Supply Act. UK. Set up for National Grid
1927 UK National Grid started
1930 Neon tube adverts and signs appeared
LUMA bulb factory opened in Sweden
1931 Edison died on 17th October aged 83
30% of UK homes wired for electricity
Philips & Osram introduced Sodium lamp
1932 Piccadilly Circus neon adverts installed
1934 Coiled coil filament developed in USA
1935 UK National Grid near completion
Efficient high-pressure mercury lamp by Philips
1936 Commercial fluorescent tubes appeared GEC (US)
1937 Sealed beam car lamp patented by E A Howard (US)
1947 Xenon lamp developed
1950 US first nuclear reactor
Pure white Fluorescent found by P Ranby
1951 85% of UK homes wired for electricity
Osram develop the Short Arc Xenon lamp
1956 First nuclear power station at Calder Hall UK
1957 High Pressure Sodium lamp developed
1960 Laser beam invented by T H Maiman (US)
1961 Quartz-iodine bulb developed
96% of UK homes wired for electricity
1964 High-pressure sodium lamp introduced (US)
1969 Thorn develop Compact Source Iodide lamp
1973 Siemens LUMILUX fluorescent tube introduced
1979 Osram (G.E.C.) Ltd. Produce Swan commemorative bulb
1980 Osram CIRCOLUX, folded fluorescent tube in bulb
1981 Thorn introduce 2D lamp, Small fluorescent bulb

Next Chapter - The Variety of Voltages in London c. 1910

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