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When did Thomas Edison invent the light bulb?

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Quick Answer

Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb in 1879. This light bulb lasted 13.5 hours in the first initial testing period. In 1881, Edison proceeded to open an electric light company in Newark to begin development on a more efficient light bulb.

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Full Answer

Scientists had been struggling to come up with a safe and inexpensive substitute for gaslight for 50 years before Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb. The original bulb used a platinum filament, but in 1880, Edison had a breakthrough and used carbon bamboo, which proved to be a viable alternative to the filament and resulted in a more affordable and efficient light bulb.

To make safer electric lights comfortable to use inside the home, Edison needed to find a pleasant light with a long-burning filament. He experimented with everything from coconut fibers to human hair, finally hitting on carbonized bamboo as the ideal centerpiece for his new bulb. The first successful large-scale test of Edison's bulb was in October 1882, when 25 buildings in the New York City financial district were lit with electric light bulbs.

While electric lighting already existed during Edison's time, they were arc lights, too bright to be comfortable indoors and impractical for everyday use. Hence, most houses used candles, lanterns or gas lights, all of which were dangerous due to their open flames.

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