Inventors and their Inventions
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Edison obtained 1,093 United States patents, the most issued to any individual. Edison’s greatest contribution was the first practical electric lighting.
To say that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb is both a huge overstatement and a huge understatement all at the same time. A more accurate view is that he perfected a practical light bulb and that his real aim and achievement was the invention of an electrical system to produce and distribute electrical power.
In 1878 the best source of lighting was gas. When gas burned it created soot. It degraded the air quality by emitting soot and depleting oxygen.
In 1878 Edison decided to throw the bulk of his attention and resources into the perfection of the light bulb. The only major exception to this pattern was his invention of the phonograph. Other people had worked long and hard on the incandescent lamp, and he built on what they learned.
When Edison started working on the light bulb the best dynamo around produced electricity at only 40% efficiency. He developed one that was 82% efficient. By September of 1882 he had opened a central station on Pearl Street in Manhattan and was eventually supplying electricity to a one mile square section of New York.