What Impact Has the Light Bulb Had on the World?

Numerous inventions altered both the world and the United States throughout the 1800s. The light bulb was one of them. When the light bulb was created, people started modifying their homes with electricity and switching from utilising fire for evening lighting to using light bulbs. This invention has some negative side effects as well. The gas businesses were struggling as a result of people using light bulbs more frequently, and gas stocks dropped.

The widespread growth of electrical power infrastructure was also sparked by the new innovation of the light bulb. The biggest of these was initially constructed in Niagara Falls in 1895. This was the world’s first power plant at the time. Additional inventions made possible by the light bulb include electrical devices, the phonograph, and even different types of light bulbs.

On society, the long-term repercussions were seen. Because of the improved illumination, people stayed up later in the evenings, cities developed a nighttime social scene, and residences became safer because they were no longer heated and lit by fire.

Who Was the Light Bulb’s Inventor?

Despite the fact that Thomas Edison is credited with creating the light bulb in 1879, other scientists and engineers were developing different ways to generate electricity or light. Italian inventor Alessandro Volta was developing a method of producing electricity in the year 1800. For this invention, he combined copper with zinc, which caused the copper wire to glow and emit light.

In 1840, Warren de la Rue created a prototype of the light bulb. He made an effective lightbulb out of copper wire and platinum filament. The expense of platinum, however, prevented the innovation from becoming a commercial success.

This variant of the light bulb was also invented in 1850 by English chemist Joseph Swan. He used a carbonised paper filament, but lacked the technology to effectively operate the vacuum pump in the lightbulb.

Swan’s design had a problem, which Edison identified, and he came up with a new idea that employed a thinner filament to increase the efficiency of the light bulb. After his light bulb design was deemed a success in 1879, Edison established his own electric corporation, the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York, in 1880.

How Do Light Bulbs Operate?

When Edison created the first light bulb, electricity was used to make it operate. The light was produced by electricity that passed through a glass vacuum bulb and a delicate platinum filament. The melting of the filament would be slowed down by the glass bulb’s vacuum. Only a few hours would pass before this bulb burned out.

The light bulb is made considerably differently today. Two metal connections on the bulb’s metal base allow it to be connected to an electrical circuit. A thin metal filament in the middle of the bulb is connected by two wires via the metal contacts. A neutral gas, typically argon, surrounds the wires and filament in the glass bulb.

When a light bulb is powered by an electrical current, the energy moves via the wires to the filament and produces light. In more technical terms, the contemporary light bulb emits light as a result of an interaction between positively and negatively charged atoms.

The Various Light Bulb Types

The first light bulb used in the typical home was an incandescent one. Fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), halogen bulbs, and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are all available today.

incandescent lighting

In homes and other buildings, this bulb used to be the most typical. In comparison to the Edison original, this bulb functions a little bit differently. By sending a current through wires to a tungsten filament, which emits a glow, it creates light. The lifespan of these bulbs is roughly 700–1,000 hours.

Fluorescent Lighting

These lights are tubes filled with gases like mercury. Electricity powers the light by flowing from cathodes on the bulb’s ends to gases that emit light.

The phosphorous coating on the tubes absorbs the energy and transforms it into light. Fluorescent lights require particular disposal because they contain gases and have a longer lifespan.


CFL bulbs have a lifespan of roughly 10,000 hours and are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs. CFLs have taken the place of incandescent lights in many houses. These spiral-shaped lights use the same technology as fluorescent tubes to function.

halogen lighting

Older floor lamps and automobile headlamps frequently use halogen lamps. Compared to an incandescent bulb, these are far more compact and efficient. A tungsten filament that is encased in a transparent housing powers halogen lamps.

Halogen and an inert gas are used to fill the bulb, extending its lifespan and enhancing its brightness.


The most common type of bulb used in homes and structures worldwide is an LED bulb. Due to their high energy efficiency, these bulbs are a popular choice and come in a variety of light colours. An electric current that flows to a diode that is negatively charged causes a flow of electrons and protons, which powers the LED bulb.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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