Early Incandescent Lamps

Some lamps submitted to the Franklin Institute in 1885 for comparative testing


The history of the electric incandescent lamp can be considered to have begun with the invention of the voltaic pile by Alessandro Volta in 1800. Although the steps, sometimes very small steps, toward a practical lamp were many, it would be a rewarding job to treat the very early history in a manner in which the subject deserves. However, although the earlier history needs to be revealed in detail, this site concentrates mainly on lamp development between the years 1880-1925.

The various topics were written in random order, as the material surfaced from the writer's files. This version is simply an attempt to organize, under appropriate general headings, what had been written earlier. A few new topics have been added.


1) Manufacturers of Incandescent Lamps
Incandescent Lamp Manufacturers in Cleveland, 1884-1905
Location of the Swan Lamp Manufacturing Company
Lamp Manufacturer Affiliates
Sawyer-Man Locations in 1886 and 1894
The Shelby Electric Company
The General Electric Company's Porcelain Factory
GE Incandescent Lamp Manufacture in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Manufacturers of Incandescent Lamps in 1938
The Thomson-Houston Electric Incandescent Lamp, 1884-1893
Hawkeye Electric Manufacturing Company
Fort Wayne Jenney and Indianapolis Jenney
The Sun Electric Company
Lamp Manufacturers in Warren, Ohio
The Excelsior Electric Company

2) Carbon Filament Lamps
Lamp Descriptions-1885 Franklin Institute Test
The Largest Incandescent Lamp Ever Made—As of 1899
Later Samples of Carbon Filaments
Carbon Filament Configuration and Light Distribution
GEM (General Electric Metallized) Lamp Advertisement
The Edison Night Lamp
Colburn Incandescent Lamps
Buckeye Lamp
New Incandescent Lamps for Desks
The Seel Incandescent Lamp
The Heisler Incandescent Lamp
Perkins Incandescent Lamps and Sockets
The Hill Incandescent Lamp
The Freeman Incandescent Lamp
Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans Lamp
The Nothomb Lamp
Miniature Edison Lamps
1886 Stanley-Westinghouse Lamp
English Double Filament Lamp
Bernstein Lowatt Reflector Lamps
Westinghouse Series Lamps and Sockets
The Lamp of Edward Pollard
The Sterling Special Lamp
The Incandescent Lamp of Dr. Isaac Adams, Jr.
The Cruto Lamp

3) Tantalum Filament Lamps
Tantalum Filament Lamps

4) The Osmium Filament Lamp
The Osmium Filament Lamp

5) Tungsten Filament Lamps
MAZDA Lamps with Sintered Tungsten Filaments
"Just" Tungsten Lamp for Burning in Any Position
1910 GE MAZDA Lamp With Sintered Tungsten Filament
MAZDA Trivia
The Gas-Filled Incandescent Lamp
The "Grain of Wheat" Lamp
The White MAZDA Lamp
The Mitchell and White Tipless Construction
The Kuzel Lamp

6) Platinum Filament Lamps
Grove's Lamp of 1840
A Lamp of Uncertain Origin
Farmer Lamps of 1859 and 1868

7) Some Lamp Types
Meridian Lamps
Electric Luminous Radiators
Hylo-Economical Turn-Down Lamps
The Nernst Lamp
Telephone Switchboard Lamps
Some Early Automobile Lamps

8) Some Not-So-Well-Known Lamps
The Elblight
The Livgro Incandescent Lamp
Crawford-Voelker Titanium Carbide Lamp
The Lamp of C. A. Bäckström
Decorative Diffusing Lamp
The "New Sunbeam" or "Acorn" Lamp
The Van Depoele Incandescent Lamp
Somoff's Incandescent Lamps

9) Lamp Parts
Leading-In Conductors
Mica Disc Heat Deflectors
Incandescent Lamp Carbon Filaments
Economizing Platinum Wire in Incandescent Lamps
Aluminum Leading-in Wires for Incandescent Lamps

10) Lamp Bases and Sockets
Edison's Early Lamp Base and Socket
Ediswan Lamp Terminals in 1893
Lamp Bases in Use Before Standardization
Incandescent Lamp Sockets in Use Before Standardization
The Manufacture of Lamp Bases
Hawkeye Base and Socket
Lamp Bases Used by Tungsram
Candelabra and Miniature Bases
Use of Porcelain in Lamp Bases
Porcelain Lamp Base
A Universal Pull Lamp Socket
General Electric Locking Socket
Cutaway Views of Various Lamp Bases and Sockets
Cartwright Waterproof Socket
A New Incandescent Lamp Socket
Convertible Lamp Bases
Lamp Base Display

11) Lamp Patents
Edison Patent No 444,530 (and Reissue No 12,393)
Dates on Very Early British Patents
A Review of the Henry Goebel Defense of 1893
The Goebel Legend
Thomson-Houston and Consolidated Patents

12) Lamp Collections and Exhibits
The William J. Hammer Historical Collection of Incandescent Electric Lamps
Comments on Some Hammer Lamps at the Ford Museum
Edison Lamps at the Ford Museum
Exhibits and Collections of Early Incandescent Lamps
Lamps Collected by Charles Proteus Steinmetz
Petzinger Filament Collection
Lamp Display at Philips After 1964
Collectors and Collections, Past and Present
General Electric's Edison Exhibit in Chicago in 1893
Two Small Collections of Early Lamps
Goebel Original and Reproduced Lamps
The Westinghouse-Hibben Historical Lamp Collection at the Huntington Library

13) Stopper Lamps
Various Stopper Lamps
A Tubular Westinghouse Stopper Lamp
Low Voltage Westinghouse Stopper Lamps
Adapters for Westinghouse Stopper Lamps

14) Lamps Labels and Markings
Trademark Labels of Some Companies in 1914
Labels of the National Electric Lamp Association
GEM (General Electric Metallized) Lamp Labels
MAZDA Bulb Markings
Labels Used on Lamps Shipped to Brazil
The GE Monogram
Three-Voltage Rating of Lamps
Labels Used on Manufacturer's Lamps

15) Miscellaneous Lamp Topics
Dating Edison Lamps, 1880-1905
Images of Early Lamps
Edison Lamp Replicas
The Edison Effect
Web Sites of Interest
Lighting at the Columbian Exposition of 1893
Lamp Exhaust Times at Thomson-Houston
National Electric Light Association
Excerpt from Letter from Harry Needham
Comments from Edison Laboratory National Monument
An Inquiry for Lamp Historians
The First Windmill-Powered Incandescent Lamps in the World
Seeing Inside an Outside-Frosted Lamp
Bulb Darkening in Incandescent Lamps
Photographs of Eminent Electrical Men
Papers of John Robert Crouse, 1905-1932
Aylsworth's Niobium Filament Preparation
From Alessandro Volta to William Robert Grove
World War II Blackout Light
Incandescent Lamps for Horses' Harness
Preventing Vibration in Incandescent Lamp Filaments
Electric Light Plant Nearest the North Pole
The Financial State of an Inventor
Cut-Out for Series Incandescent Lamps
The Incandescent Lamp—Beyond 1925
Three 1907 Lamp Advertisements
TILCA — The Incandescent Lamp Collectors Association
The Helion Lamp
The Rooney Sun-Star Turn-Down Lamp
Tri-Light Regulating Key-Socket and Lamp
Zenith Incandescent Lamps
The Albert Miller Lamp
Economical Regulating Lamp
The Story of Electricity
Nela Park - A Brief Early History - Terry Management Style - and Incandescent Lamp Advances
Comments on the "Grain of Wheat" Lamp
The Packard Brothers and Packard Lamps

16) Biographical Sketches
E. Q. Adams
Mary R. Andrews
E. J. Bagnall
Forée Bain
Edgar G. Bernard
Adolph Berrenberg
Katharine Blodgett
Ludwig K. Böhm
Henry M. Byllesby
F. M. F. Cazin
Sir William Crookes
Ch. de Changy
Additional Information on Ch. De Changy
Philip Diehl
W. E. Forsythe
St. George Lane Fox-Pitt
John H. Guest
John Allen Heany
Dr. Samuel G. Hibben
William Hochhausen
John White Howell
Wilson Stout Howell
Francis Jehl - An Obituary
Achilles Matveevitch (de) Khotinsky
Rudolf Langhans
Lewis Howard Latimer
George R. Lean
James Bowman Lindsay
Matthew Luckiesh
Albon Man
Hiram S. Maxim
Garrett Morgan, Traffic Light Inventor
Aladar Pacz, Developer of Nonsag Tungsten
Charles G. Perkins
Marvin Pipkin
John E. Randall
William Edward Sawyer
Frederick Schaefer
Henry Schroeder
M. M. M. Slattery
William Stanley, Jr.
John Wellington Starr
Royal F. Strickland
Alfred Swan
Sir Joseph Wilson Swan
Sir James Swinburne
Franklin Silas Terry
Burton Gad Tremaine (1863-1948)
Charles J. Van Depoele
John Waring
Edward Weston and the Tamidine Filament
Willis Rodney Whitney and the GEM Filament
W. Mattieu Williams
O.E. Woodhouse
Archie Garfield Worthing
Edmund Louis Gray Zalinski

17) Books
Corrections to Howell and Schroeder's Book
Excerpts from John W. Howell's Stories for My Children
Electric Illumination, Vol II, edited by James Dredge
Forty Years of Edison Service, 1882-1922
Farmer on the Electric Light
Books for Sale

The author is —

Edward J. Covington
17279 Hooper Ridge Road
Millfield, Ohio 45761-9645
United States of America