An Abridged History of Lighting

Imagine yourself at home, work, school, anywhere really, without having the ability to flick on a switch or plug in a lamp to turn on some light – sounds pretty crazy, right? Well, although lighting is something we rely on today, there was a point in time where the sources of light we know and love didn’t exist – let’s travel back in time together and see how things started and how they’ve changed.

Electrical History | Emergency Service Electrician Smithtown

Early Lighting

History explains that after having to rely on the sun and natural sources of light, the first attempt at man-made lighting took place around 70,000 BC. At this time, the first “lamp” was created using a hollow rock, shell, or similar item – to produce light, the chosen object was filled with a combustible material and animal fat so that it could be ignited. Eventually people transitioned to using pottery as one of the primary materials for lamps, and wicks were added so that the rate at which lamps burned could be better controlled. It was in the 7th century BC that the greeks developed terra cotta lamps to replace the more common handheld torches.

Electric Lamps

After people began to experiment with things like oil lamps and gas lights, the carbon-arc lamp, made by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1801, is said to have been the first electric lamp.  Electric lighting later became more popular after Sir Joseph Swan (England) and Thomas Edison (United States) both invented incandescent lamps. In 1880 Thomas Edison patented his electric lamp, and today, you might even still have one in your home!


Although most of us know Thomas Edison to be the inventor of the lightbulb, one cannot forget to mention inventors Henry Woodward and Matthew Evan, who are said to have patented an incandescent lightbulb prior to Edison – the difference between them and Edison was that they were unable to raise enough money to begin commercializing it. But back to Edison, what made his work on the lightbulb so noteworthy was that the lightbulb wasn’t his only contribution to lighting – he also began to invent other products that made using lightbulbs possible.

To keep reading about the history of lighting, click here.

As a company that works with lighting and electricity on a daily basis, we say thank you to those great inventors who brought light to life – without their work, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love!

TFC Electric is a full service commercial and residential electrician that services all of Suffolk County. Services include, but are not limited to, generator installations, electrical service upgrades and electrical repairs. For more information, call (631) 589-2800 today.

May 6, 2016