Friday, April 06, 2012

Light Bulbs

Perfect Gizmos and Gadgets

The Livermore Light Bulb

Res Ipsa Loquitur

The world's oldest light bulb has been burning for 111 years - so little wonder it has a fan club with thousands of members and its own website. The so-called 'Centennial Light' has been on almost constantly since 1901. It holds pride of place in Fire Station 6, in Livermore, northern California.

The longest time the Guinness World Record-holding bulb has ever been turned off for is just a week. Dangling above the fire engines, people come for hundreds and thousands of miles to see the diminutive symbol. The bulb was designed by Adolphe Chailet, who competed with the likes of the world-famous Thomas Edison to make the best bulb. [site]

I saw this on ACE a few weeks ago,  and it lit a light bulb.  And then, another one.

I have mentioned before that when I was a lad in Chicago you took your burned out light bulbs to Commonwealth Edison and got  free replacements. Years later I asked my dad about that during a reminiscence.  His explanation—  and he was never wrong about anything in his entire life, was that Com Edison's bulbs were made with extra heavy filaments, which served two purposes.  They seldom burned out, and they used twice as much electricity as bulbs we use today.  And  Com Edison was selling the juice. The free Gillette razor, you buy the blades gambit.  Looking up that reference led me to The Light Bulb Conspiracy – The Untold Story of Planned Obsolescence, which I haven't read, nor watched, but it looks like that other bulb I mentioned.

Related—   Free Battery Tester


David said...

re: free battery tester - several decades ago when settling into our new house I walked past the cable guy who was supposed to be hooking up our cable. He was sitting by the box holding onto five identical wires (without connectors) that came out of the box. He looked at me and asked "Do you know which one of these goes to your living room?

I told him - "Give me a moment, when I yell at you, touch your tongue to the end of each wire, the one that tingles is the living room." then I went into the house, grabbed a 9 volt battery and touched it to the shielding and center wire of the cable hanging out of the wall and yelled at the guy to go ahead. He found the right wire on the third try.

It kind of bothered me that the cable company had an installer who didn't have a method of finding out which wire went where. And that he was dumb enough to lick those wires without knowing what I was doing to the other end...

Anonymous said...

"...was that Com Edison's bulbs were made with extra heavy filaments,..."
Extra heavy filaments would probably mean thicker filaments. If they were thicker they would have less resistance and, therefore, draw more current - making them a higher wattage bulb. You can buy Rough Service bulbs at a good hardware store. If you could look in past the frosting you would see that they have several supports for the filament - keeping it in place. (Also some kind of plastic coating on the glass.) If they used twice the electricity they would be approximately twice as bright.
The other possibility is that they were 130 volt bulbs rather than 120 volt (at one time you could buy these - I don't know if that's still possible. Maybe at a electrical wholesaler.) They run a little cooler - and therefore less efficiently but last longer. The higher the temperature, the higher the heat and the more output is in the visible range (rather than being wasted in the infrared range).
Steve (currently in CA)

Anonymous said...

You can now buy really cook reproduction vintage edison lightbulbs. They even carry them at home depot.

Anonymous said...

I remember combing the house for burned out bulbs and stuffing them into an A&P grocery bag to take to the store in La Grange in the late '50s.
I sort of remember my Dad saying the electric company wanted all your bulbs to work, all the time, so you'd use more juice, and this was their gimmick.
We still didn't have enough bulbs, and the ones that worked migrated from lamp to lamp.

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