For hundreds of years people looked for a cheap and easy light source. They wanted to be able to see after the sunset. Before the light bulb people had to use fireplaces, candles, gas or oil lamps for light. In the year 1879, Thomas Edison and his helpers were working hard in the Edison’s workshop. Edison was trying to make a light bulb. Many other people had tried and failed. For instance, some scientists did not think a light bulb was possible. Edison and his workers were trying to find a material that would work in the light bulb. The material had to glow as electricity went through it. It had to burn for a long time. It also had to glow brightly. The men tested several materials. In October, one of Edison’s lamps glowed for more than 13 hours which was longer than any other lamp would. This marked the birth of the electric light bulb (Nobleman, 2004).This paper discusses the impacts of electric light bulb innovation to the society.
Impacts of Electric Light Bulbs Innovation
The enormous growth of the electrical industry resulted from the great public demand for various engineering innovations and products. One of the first commercially successful electrical innovations was the electric light bulb, which brings the benefits of electricity to the society and make electricity the dominant form of energy consumption. The success of the light bulbs reflects in some respects of such other technological inventions as the television. Therefore, it is an outstanding case study of the relationship between industry, physics and society. In the past, most homes and buildings were lit by oil lamps and candles. For example, Abraham Lincoln did his reading using the light from fire. There were almost no street lights in all cities except for the lamps that were hung outside some houses at night. The innovation of electric light bulb has made greatest difference in lives of people. For instance, it has made the evenings fit for furnishing chores indoors, as well as for leisure activities or reading (Cassidy, Holton & Rutherford, 2002))
It is almost inevitable that any new significant technology will be predicted to transform the society, or at least to embody the potential to transform society, for better or worse. It is often said, especially in the initial stages of adoption of a particular technology, that the technology will generate social change based upon the implicit values, virtues, or vices possessed by that technology. This is a technological determinism and electric light bulb is not an exception. Technological determinism implies that new technological innovations set conditions for social change and progress. In such a view, technology is seen as a law unto itself, in a sense that all technological innovations are seen as drivers in the progress of society as well as culture. Putting the electric light bulb into a social context reveals another view of the relationship between technology, society and culture which might be referred to as economic or social determinism. For instance, the light bulb technology would be characterized as the passive partner in the culture-technology whereby the social conditions create environments in which these technologies are seen as either necessary by products of social processes. From this perspective, the light bulb has become necessary at certain points of cultural development. So in this case of the light bulb, its technological innovation becomes a symptom of wider social changes (Miller, 2011).
Prior to the invention and innovation of the electric light bulbs, the average time of sleep for many people has decreased. Early people depended on the light from the sun which lasts for 12 hours in a day. During this time, travel was very difficult and dangerous, and businesses had to be closed down at dusk. The innovations of light bulb have made people to extend days as long as they stay awake. The industries continue to carry out their manufacturing activities for extended period in order to meet their set goals and customer demands. The almost universal adoption of electricity in urban areas by residents who have access can be explained only by the high value placed on electric lighting whereby light bulbs technology is crucial. The reason for this qualitative leap in energy services is the relative efficiency of the electric bulbs or lamps. An electric bulb hangs from the ceiling and either fills the room with light or is focused downward for reading or close work. Indeed, paraffin lamp gives off only about a third of the light from some light bulbs. Moreover, the glare that comes from the kerosene lamp makes it unpleasant to be used by some people (Barnes, Krutilla & Hyde, 2005).
Finally, the technological innovations of light bulbs have contributed to environmental conservation through pollution reduction. Centrally to other sources of light, electric light bulbs do not pollute the environment. For example, the smoke from kerosene lamps pollutes the environment which causes serious threats to human life. Also, some people use fire as a source of light. Fire is known to be dangerous to the environment. For instance, wood must be used which leads to deforestation. Considering the negative economic effects of environmental pollution, light bulbs stand to be the most economical sources of light.
Improving the innovations of light bulbs is one key solution to reducing the need for other expensive sources of light and reducing environmental pollution. Currently, “going green” is a major concern for many people. Therefore, light bulb innovations will enhance “going green” in the society.