Lighting and Electronics
Lighting is the illumination of an area, usually by artificial means, such as lamps or flashlights. Electronics are the electrical devices and associated circuits that control, process and distribute electricity. Artificial lighting and electronics depend on the availability of electricity, which is made by Electrical Power Systems
Around 500,000 BCE, fire was first artificially started, controlled and used by humans. This invention, together with the invention of torches, provided lighting of primitive dwellings and the outside dark. It also provided protection from wild animals, all of which were repelled by it. Torches gave way to oil lamps around 20,000 BCE. Candles, animal fat melted and solidified around a fiber wick, were invented before 3,000 BCE when they were depicted in Egyptian paintings. Asimov 4-267 They were in continued use until mostly replaced by kerosene lamps in the 1860s following the discovery of petroleum in Pennsylvania. By 1790, home lighting was provided by candles, whale oil, wood and coal. Candles were burned in holders, oil (e.g., animal fat whaleoil, vegetable oils) in lamps, and wood and coal in fireplaces and stoves. The latter two appliances also served to cook food and heat the home. Oil lamps contained fiber wicks dipped into farm animal fat (tallow) or whale oil. These methods of home lighting would not change outside the largest cities until kerosene from petroleum replaced whale oil. In the largest cities, the wealthiest people might have coal gas lighting, but the average person could not afford gas illumination.
In 1792, William Murdock, a British inventor, collected gases obtained from the heating and burning of wood, peat, and coal, and found them inflammable. In 1800, Murdock set up an experimental gas light using coal gas. Asimov 281
The first experiments using coal gas as an illuminant were done in Philadelphia in 1796.
Street lighting by coal gas was attempted on Pelham St., Newport, RI, by David Melville in 1806, but it failed because of legal complications. Carruth 117,133
In 1816, the first coal gas company, the Gas Light Company, began providing coal gas to light Baltimore, MD, streets. Carruth 155
The first natural gas well was drilled and began production in Fredonia, NY, in 1821. The gas was piped to the Fredonia Hotel and used for lighting and cooking. Carruth 165
Candles and oil lamps were used for thousands of years. They were useful, but soft and smelly. The French chemist, Michel-Eugene Chevreul, had studied fats and determined they were combinations of glycerol and fatty acids. He isolated for the first time 3 common fatty acids: stearic, palmitic, and oleic acids. In 1825, he and Gay-Lussac, another chemist, patented candles made from these 3 acids. They were harder, brighter, required less care, and smelled better. Asimov 318 Also, they were productive because they produced more light for the same quantity of candle.
In 1835, coal gas lighting for hotel guest room and hallways was provided at the American House in Boston, MA. Carruth 197
From 1846 on, carbon arc-lighting from batteries was demonstrated successfully by W. E. Staite, Jabez Church, W. Greener and others. Singer 208 However, they were not reliable because of the electricity generated by batteries.
In 1859, electric home lighting powered by a voltaic battery and illuminated by two lamps was demonstrated at the home of Prof. Moses G. Farmer in Salem, MA. The lamps used platinum strips. This lighting system provided better light than gaslight, but it was much more expensive. Carruth 261
In 1873, Gramme demonstates reliable carbon arc-lighting run by his newly developed generators in his Paris factory. From 1875 onwards, arc-lighting spreads to factories and streets. However, only one arc lamp could be used with one generator, so the system was expensive. Also, the glare was uncomfortably bright. Singer 210
The first practical carbon arc-light was invented in 1876 by a Russian living in Paris, Paul Jablochkoff, using alternating current generation. Multiple lights were generated by the same generator. Singer 212 This invention, using electricity generated by the Gramme generators, made street lighting practical.
In 1878, Charles Brush, an American, installs arc-lighting in the Wannamaker store in Philadelphia. Five generators each operate 4 arc lamps in parallel, instead of the usual series arrangement. In 1879, he invents the automatic voltage regulator. Singer 213
In 1879, the first arc lighting was installed in Cleveland, OH, by Charles F. Brush. Wabash, IN, was the first city to be completely lighted by electricity. Carruth 325
October, 1879, Edison, pursuing the incandescent light, uses carbonized cotton filament in a vacuum of 1 millionth of an atmosphere to produce a lamp that lights for 45 hours. Later, he uses carbonized bamboo filament that lasts 1,000 hours. Schles 341
In 1880, Thomas A. Edison received a patent for his incandescent lamp with a carbonized cotton thread filament. It was first demonstrated at his Menlo Park, NJ, laboratory in 1876. The first commercial application was on the steamship Columbia, owned by the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company, in 1881. Carruth 329
In 1880, Charles Leonard Newcomb started the first municipal electric lighting plant in New Britain, CT. Carruth 329
In 1888, Edison uses tungsten as the ultimate lamp filament.
In 1896, Nikola Tesla invents an arc lighting system, but the incandescent lamp prevails.