Who Invented Light?

While light is a natural phenomenon and not an invention, the first lamp was invented around 70,000 B.C., and its inventor remains nameless. It used burning moss and animal fat in a rock or shell. Thomas Edison and other inventors patented incandescent lamps in the 1870s.

While people often credit Edison with the invention of the light bulb, the Department of Energy indicates there were many others involved in the actual invention. There were questions of patent infringement, but Edison eventually merged with companies in both the United States and England to overcome these infringements. English inventors had also created electrical arc lighting several decades before the Edison light bulb.

Electrical lighting brought a revolution, according to the Smithsonian Institute. For the first time, it became possible to control the light in a room by flipping a switch. Sunlight was no longer the primary source of lighting. The change in lighting allowed architects to design windowless buildings. Factories were able to operate around the clock, increasing production but also affecting the natural biological rhythms of workers.

In 1938, as a part of the celebration of rural electrification, Franklin D. Roosevelt described electricity as a modern necessity of life. As electricity for lighting became more common, its cost dropped, allowing its use for other purposes in both homes and businesses.