Let There Be Light

A still life drawing of Edison's revolutionary bulb. 

On this day, 135 years ago, in Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison successfully tested his groundbreaking incandescent electric lightbulb.  It stayed lit for 13 1/2 hours. Subsequent tweaks and tests would succeed at lengthening the bulb's lifespan and by 1880 the design had been sufficiently perfected for mass market distribution. Edison's invention represented a revolution not only in lighting, but also in lifestyle as Americans could now keep their homes lit longer and at lower cost.  

Sure, personally and professionally Edison was a real bastard, but thanks to him we can stay up late and raid our well lit refrigerators for delicious Hot Pockets!    

Thomas Edison (at the time a young man of 32) was not the first person to create incandescent bulbed light using electricity - despite the common assertion that he is the sole inventor of the lightbulb. Previous attempts had met with success as far back as 1808. Edison's bulb, however, lasted longer, had greater durability, and was practically designed for home use. Furthermore, by using a carbon filament inside the bulb to soften the glow, Edison's invention was a marked improvement over the harsh brightness of the arc light - an electric lighting system employed by some Western cities after the invention of the dynamo in the mid 1800s. Edison would rightly brag about his creation to the New York Times saying,

As there is no oxygen to burn, you can readily see that this piece of carbon will last an ordinary life-time. It has the property of resisting the heat of the current of electricity, while at the same time it becomes incandescent, and gives out one of the most brilliant lights which the world has ever seen. The cost of preparing one of these little horse-shoes of carbon is about 1 cent, and the entire lamp will cost not more than 25 cents.”
— Thomas Edison

Undoubtedly however, the greatest impact of Edison's bulb was on the world of cartoons, as animators now had the perfect image to use in order to depict a character's moment of epiphany...