The End of the Edison Era?
Evans, Sherry. 2011
Thomas Alva Edison was a truly amazing man. His many inventions have stood the test of time and continue to be used by billions of people in their everyday life in some form. Consider the phonograph, which weíve morphed into the Compact Discs and iPods. The Kinetoscope, now a camcorder, and the Vitascope, father of todayís film projectors, have provided worlds of entertainment for more than 100 years now.
Weíve taken Edisonís creations to new levels by improving on and adjusting the design to meet the needs of todayís society. Edisonís brilliance and inventiveness with the incandescent light bulb is iconic though. Edison held well over 1,000 patents, but the incandescent light bulb is the one everyone remembers, because it is still, to this day, relatively unchanged.
Of all Edisonís creations, the incandescent light bulb is the only one that we have used for over 130 years in its original form. It is still a vacuum sealed glass globe with a filament that produces light and heat when electric current is applied - just the same as the one Edison lit up for the first time in October, 1879. Within a year, Edison had invented an entire system of commercial lighting. Electric generators, wiring systems, power stations, fixtures, switches... All the pieces to make the incandescent light bulb the standard in artificial lighting were made available to commercial business by several companies Edison formed. Within three short years, the Edison bulb was the U.S. business standard, a growing residential commodity, and was commercially available abroad. These systems remain in place to this day.
In a few short months that will begin to change. As of January 1, 2012, per the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the standard 100W incandescent bulb that many people use in their garages and basements will no longer be produced in or for import to the United States. One year later, production of the 75W bulb will cease, and in 2014 the most commonly used incandescent bulbs, 60W and 40W, will also be phased out. Our beloved Edison bulb will be available in very specific, specialty instances where there is no feasible, energy efficient, replacement. However, for the most part it seems we are seeing the end of an era.