Edison: His Life and Inventions - Vol. 1

By Frank Lewis Dyer; Thomas Commerford Martin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
THE INVENTION OF THE INCANDESCENT LAMP

IT is possible to imagine a time to come when the hours of work and rest will once more be regulated by the sun. But the course of civilization has been marked by an artificial lengthening of the day, and by a constant striving after more perfect means of illumination. Why mankind should sleep through several hours of sunlight in the morning, and stay awake through a needless time in the evening, can probably only be attributed to total depravity. It is certainly a most stupid, expensive, and harmful habit. In no one thing has man shown greater fertility of invention than in lighting; to nothing does he cling more tenaciously than to his devices for furnishing light. Electricity to-day reigns supreme in the field of illumination, but every other kind of artificial light that has ever been known is still in use somewhere. Toward its light-bringers the race has assumed an attitude of veneration, though it has forgotten, if it ever heard, the names of those who first brightened its gloom and dissipated its darkness. If the tallow candle, hitherto unknown, were now invented, its creator would be hailed as one of the greatest benefactors of the present age.

Up to the close of the eighteenth century, the means

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