thomas edison > a lifetime of invention : inventing the incandescent lamp
thomas edison > inventing the incandescent lamp : an electrical system, 1879


An Electrical System

Edison knew that in order for his lamp to be successful he needed to develop a complete electrical system.  Edison had decided to investigate electric lighting only after thoroughly studying existing electrical research and the existing gas lighting distribution network.  Edison believed he could apply the principles of the gas system to electrical distribution.

While working on the incandescent lamp, Edison also worked on improving electric dynamos (or generators).  The best dynamo before Edison was only 38% efficient, meaning it lost 62% of the power that had been put into it.

Edison and his staff developed a bi-polar generator with 2 magnets that stood over three-feet tall.  Edison’s major innovation was in the armature that would spin within the magnetic field.  Edison’s armature was made of iron discs that were insulated from one another but all mounted onto a single shaft.  When Edison tested his dynamo he achieved 90% efficiency.


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