1850 Joseph W. Swan began working on a light bulb using carbonized paper filaments
1860 Swan obtained a UK patent covering a partial vacuum, carbon filament incandescent lamp
1877 Edward Weston forms Weston Dynamo Machine Company, in Newark, New Jersey.
1878 Thomas Edison founded the Edison Electric Light Company
1878 Hiram Maxim founded the United States Electric Lighting Company
1878 205,144 William Sawyer and Albon Man 6/18 for Improvements in Electric Lamps
1878 Swan receives a UK patent for an improved incandescent lamp in a vacuum tube
1879 Swan began installing light bulbs in homes and landmarks in England.
1880 223,898 Thomas Edison 1/27 for Electric Lamp and Manufacturing Process
1880 230,309 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Process of Manufacturing Carbon Conductors
1880 230,310 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Electrical Lamp
1880 230,953 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Electrical Lamp
1880 233,445 Joseph Swan 10/19 for Electric Lamp
1880 234,345 Joseph Swan 11/9 for Electric Lamp
1880 Weston Dynamo Machine Company renamed Weston Electric Lighting Company
1880 Elihu Thomson and Edwin Houston form American Electric Company
1880 Charles F. Brush forms the Brush Electric Company
1881 Joseph W. Swan founded the Swan Electric Light Company
1881 237,198 Hiram Maxim 2/1 for Electrical Lamp assigned to U.S. Electric Lighting Company
1881 238,868 Thomas Edison 3/15 for Manufacture of Carbons for Incandescent Lamps
1881 247,097 Joseph Nichols and Lewis Latimer 9/13 for Electric Lamp
1881 251, 540 Thomas Edison 12/27 for Bamboo Carbons Filament for Incandescent Lamps
1882 252,386 Lewis Latimer 1/17 for Process of Manufacturing Carbons assigned to U.S. E. L. Co.
1882 Edison’s UK operation merged with Swan to form the Edison & Swan United Co. or “Edi-swan”
1882 Joesph Swan sold his United States patent rights to the Brush Electric Company
1883 American Electric Company renamed Thomson-Houston Electric Company
1884 Sawyer & Man Electric Co formed by Albon Man a year after William Edward Sawyer death
1886 George Westinghouse formed the Westinghouse Electric Company
1886 The National Carbon Co. was founded by the then Brush Electric Co. executive W. H. Lawrence
1888 United States Electric Lighting Co. was purchased by Westinghouse Electric Company
1886 Sawyer & Man Electric Co. was purchased by Thomson-Houston Electric Company
1889 Brush Electric Company merged into the Thomson-Houston Electric Company
1889 Edison Electric Light Company consolidated and renamed Edison General Electric Company.
1890 Edison, Thomson-Houston, and Westinghouse, the “Big 3” of the American lighting industry.
1892 Edison Electric Light Co. and Thomson-Houston Electric Co. created General Electric Co.
light bulb, electric lamp, incandescent lamp, electric globe, Thomas Edison, Joseph Swan, Hiram Maxim, Humphrey Davy, James Joule, George Westinghouse, Charles Brush, William Coolidge, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts. The Story:
By the time of Edison’s 1879 lamp invention, gas lighting was a mature, well-established industry. The gas infrastructure was in place, franchises had been granted, and manufacturing facilities for both gas and equipment were in profitable operation. Perhaps as important, people had grown accustomed to the idea of lighting with gas.
Incandescent lamps make light by using electricity to heat a thin strip of material (called a filament) until it gets hot enough to glow. Many inventors had tried to perfect incandescent lamps to “sub-divide” electric light or make it smaller and weaker than it was in the existing electric arc lamps, which were too bright to be used for small spaces such as the rooms of a house.
Edison was neither the first nor the only person trying to invent an incandescent electric lamp. Many inventors had tried and failed some were discouraged and went on to invent other devices. Among those inventors who made a step forward in understanding the eclectic light were Sir Humphrey Davy, Warren De la Rue, James Bowman Lindsay, James Prescott Joule, Frederick de Moleyns and Heinrich Göbel.
Between the years 1878 and 1892 the electric light industry was growing in terms of installed lights but shrinking in terms of company competition as both Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse determined to control the industry and its advancement. They even formed the Board of Patent Control, a joint arrangement between General Electric and the Westinghouse Company to defend the patents of the two companies in litigation. This proved to be a wise decision as over 600 lawsuits for patent infringement were filed.
The easiest way to understand those turbulent times in the early lighting industry is to follow the company’s involved. Of the hundreds of companies in the business, we only cover the major players. We show the flow of inventor’s patents and inventor’s companies and how the industry ended up monopolized by GE and Westinghouse. Company names listed in GREEN ultimately became part of General Electric. Company names listed in RED ultimately became part of Westinghouse.
American Electric Company.
In the late 1870’s high school teachers Elihu Thomson and Edwin Houston began experimenting with and patenting improvements on existing arc lamp and dynamo designs. In 1880 after being approached by a group of businessmen from New Britain CT, They all agreed to the formation of a company that would engage in the commercial manufacture of lighting systems (both arc and incandescent) based on their own patents. This was the American Electric Company which existed until 1883 when it was reorganized and was renamed the Thomson-Houston Electric Company.
Brush Electric Company
In 1880, Charles F. Brush forms the Brush Electric Company. That same year he installs the first complete eclectic arc-lighting system in Wabash, Indiana. Wabash was the first American city to be lit solely by electricity and to own its own municipal power plant (that small dynamo driven by a threshing machine engine). The installation in Cleveland the year before had been a demonstration, but Cleveland would soon begin lighting its streets with arc lamps as well. In 1876 Charles F. Brush invented a new type of simple, reliable, self-regulating arc lamp, as well as a new dynamo designed to power it. Earlier attempts at self regulation had often depended on complex clockwork mechanisms that, among other things, could not automatically re-strike an arc if there were an interruption in power. The simpler Brush design for a lamp/dynamo system made central station lighting a possibility for the first time. Joseph Swan sold his United States patent rights to the Brush Electric Company in June 1882. In 1889, Brush Electric Company merged into the Thomson-Houston Electric Company.