The first light sources created by humans were produced thousands of years ago in the Neolithic period by burning tree branches and dried grass to provide light in the nighttime darkness. Thus began the age of combustible light sources. Eventually, people learned to fashion oil lamps by placing animal and vegetable oils in containers made of stone, clay and shell and then dipping wicks into the oil. While it remains unclear where and when human beings first made the transition from small lamp fires to oil lamps, the oldest known lamp today is thought to be a sandstone lamp unearthed from the La Mouthe caves in France. Over the centuries, oil lamps passed through many stages of evolution, including lamps shaped like teapots, lamps made of stone, ceramics and metal, and they came to hold an important place in many homes. However, the invention of the kerosene lamp by an American B. Syrian resulted in the gradual disappearance of the oil lamp. Finally, the discovery of electrical energy brought the introduction of electric lamps and light bulbs and the age of electrical lighting supplanted the age of combustion lighting.
Swan’s Light bulb
The age of electric light dawned in 1808 with an English-man Sir H. Davy's invention of the first electric light, the arc lamp. However, because Sir H.Davy's arc lamp was very luminous and dirtied the air through the emission of carbon steam, it was only useful for lighting roadways. At around the same time, another Englishman, Warren de la Rue created an incandescent light bulb using a platinum coil. Unfortunately this light bulb was too expensive and short-lived to be of practical use There was one scientist, however,. who provided a ray of hope for the difficult beginning of the age of electrical light. The name of this scientist was W. R. Glove. In 1840 Glove invented an incandescent light bulb using a platinum coil and achieved the practical use of electric light. Mr. Glove's work toward perfecting electric light for practical use was followed by many bright developments, such as Sir J. W. Swan's success in 1860 in producing a carbon light bulb by carbonizing paper and processing cotton fiber with sulfuric acid. Finally in 1879, Thomas A. Edison invented the carbon light bulb which is the basis of modern incandescent lamps.
Edison's Light bulb
The innovative and creative Edison, whose motto was "Genius is 99% perspiration and 1 % inspiration", and who said "I continue to invent in order to raise the money to invent", invented the incandescent light bulb during the most productive period in his life, between the years 1876 and 1881. Immersed in research into the development of incandescent light bulbs from 1878, on October 21st 1879 Edison succeeded in demonstrating a light bulb which used an improved mercury exhaust pump and carbon filament to shine for more than 40 hours. Upon discovering that bamboo was an excellent filament material, Edison acquired samples of bamboo from around the world. Edison found that Hachiman bamboo from the Kyoto area of Japan was best suited to his purposes and continued to use this bamboo for ten years thereafter. In order to popularize electric lighting, Edison also designed a host of devices related to electric light bulbs, wiring and the generation and transmission of electricity, such as sockets, switches, safety fuses, watt-hour meters and switchboards.
On the other hand, while discharge lamps began with arc lamps and the German inventor Geissler devised the Geissler tube in 1859, these lamps were overshadowed by the remarkable progress being made with incandescent lamps and went largely unnoticed. However, in 1893 the Moore lamp was invented and the development of discharge lamps began to take a more promising course. Neon lights where invented in 1914 and finally in 1938 the American inventor Inman invented the fluorescent discharge lamp.
Electric lamps and light bulbs underwent various enhancements as the result of a variety of successes and failures and have progressed in tandem with improvements in human lifestyles. Today, lighting technology has advanced to the point that electric lights have become an essential part of our daily lives. Every day incandescent, fluorescent, halogen and HID lamps provide light where we live, study, work and play.