On This Day, Dec. 31, 1879 – Thomas Edison Demonstrates His Light Bulb
1879 – Thomas Edison gave his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting to an audience in Menlo Park, NJ.
Edison’s serious incandescent light bulb research began in 1878, filing his first patent later that year…”Improvement In Electric Lights” in October 1878.
His experiments involved the fabrication and testing of many different metal filaments, including platinum. Platinum was very difficult to work with, and prone to being weakened by heating and oxygen attack.
In addition, platinum was expensive, and too low in resistance; which would require heavy copper conductors in Edison’s electric distribution system he was designing to supply commercial installations of his bulbs. This system would later become the model for our modern electric utility power distribution system of today.
Edison then resorted to a carbon-based, high-resistance, filament. One year later in October 1879, Edison successfully tested a filament that burned for 13.5 hours. Continuing to improve his design, by November 1879, he filed for a U.S. patent for an electric lamp using “a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected … to platina contact wires”. The filament was made from a piece of carbonized thread.
By New Year’s he was demonstrating lamps using carbonized cardboard filaments to large crowds at the Menlo Park laboratory.
It was not until several months after the patent was granted that Edison and his team discovered that a carbonized bamboo filament could last over 1,200 hours.
1687 – The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope, where they would later create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.
1695 – The window tax was imposed in Britain, which resulted in many windows being bricked up.
1711 – The Duke of Marlborough was dismissed as commander-in-chief.
1775 – The British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery was killed in the battle.
1841 – The State of Alabama enacted the first dental legislation in the U.S.
1857 – Britain’s Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
1862 – President Abe Lincoln signed an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
1877 – Rutherford B. Hayes became the first U.S. President to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House.
1891 – New York’s new Immigration Depot was opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.
1897 – Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.
1923 – In London, the BBC first broadcast the chimes of Big Ben.
1929 – Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played “Auld Lang Syne” as a New Year’s Eve song for the first time.
1946 – President Harry Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
1947 – Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were married.
1953 – Willie Shoemaker broke his own record as he won his 485th race of the year.
1955 – General Motors became the first corporation to earn more than one billion dollars in a single year.
1960 – The farthing coin, which had been in use in Great Britain since the 13th century, ceased to be legal tender.
1961 – The post-World War II Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
1961 – The Beach Boys played a show under this name for the first time at a Ritchie Valens memorial concert in Long Beach, CA.
1967 – The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game is known as the Ice Bowl since it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero.
1970 – Paul McCartney filed a suit to dissolve the Beatles.
1974 – Private citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
1978 – Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, DC. The event marked the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.
1986 – A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, killed 97 and injured 140 people. Three hotel workers later pled guilty to charges in connection with the fire.
1999 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president.
Source: Edisonmuckers.org; On-This-Day.com