Today in History: Edison Patents the Electric Light Bulb


While the world is buzzing over Apple's latest product release, the iPad, it's appropriate that we look back at another pioneer of technology, Thomas Edison. Light_bulbOn this day in 1880, Edison patented the electric light bulb: U.S. Patent 0,223,898. We combed through our audio archives and found these reflections from Edison, speaking in 1908 about a new invention from his time, electricity.

Ladies and gentlemen. Those of us who began our life labors at the operator's key 50 years ago, have been permitted to see, and assist in the whole modern industrial development of electricity. Since the remarkable experiments of Morse in 1844, and the unsuccessful efforts of Field in 1858, there have come with incredible rapidity one electrical art after another, so that in practically every respect, civilization has been revolutionized. It is still too early to stand outside these events and pronounce final judgments on their lasting value, but we may surely entertain the belief that the last half of the 19th century was as distinct in its electrical inventions and the results as the first half was in relation to steam. When I look around at the resources of the electrical field today, I feel that I would be glad to begin again my work as an electrician, an inventor, and we veterans can only urge upon our successors, the younger followers of Franklin and of Calvin, to realize the measure of their opportunities and to rise to the height of their responsibilities in this day of electricity.

For more information on Edison and his work, WNYC recently toured the newly re-opened Edison workshop in West Orange, New Jersey.

Special thanks to WNYC’s Director of Archives Andy Lanset