Let there be light: January 27, anniversary of bright idea

January 29, 2009

Oops, missed this anniversary date!

First page of patent granted to Thomas Edison on January 27, 1880 -- for light bulb

First page of patent granted to Thomas Edison on January 27, 1880 -- for light bulb

Thomas Alva Edison got a patent for “electric-lamp” on January 27, 1880.

According to the Our Documents site:

In 1878 the creation of a practical long-burning electric light had eluded scientists for decades. With dreams of lighting up entire cites, Edison lined up financial backing, assembled a group of brilliant scientists and technicians, and applied his genius to the challenge of creating an effective and affordable electric lamp. With unflagging determination, Edison and his team tried out thousands of theories, convinced that every failure brought them one step closer to success. On January 27, 1880, Edison received the historic patent embodying the principles of his incandescent lamp that paved the way for the universal domestic use of electric light.

(Information excerpted from American Originals by Stacey Bredhoff; [Seattle and London; The University of Washington Press, 2001] p. 62–63.

Our Documents grew out of the National Archives list of 100 milestone documents important to American history — Edison’s patent application was voted one of the top 100.  Our Documents is now a joint exercise combining the efforts of the National Archives, National History Day, and USA Freedom Corps.

Page from Edisons application for patent for an electric lamp - National Archives

Page from Edison's application for patent for an "electric lamp" - National Archives

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