Wikipedia offers a different history of the light bulb. The point here is not to debate the actual names and dates and every contributor to the invention of the light bulb; the point is to understand that great ideas and inventions are often the combined ideas of several people who have gone before you.
It’s quite likely that many people have thought of your idea in the past and that your business idea exists in many forms and in many places. It is also likely that you may have a different version of the same idea, or that you can take the same idea that everyone else has and learn to market it and sell it in a more productive and strategic way.
Section 1: The Power of the Idea
Ex 7: Aggregate Ideas (Cont.)
In this module, I want to understand how you can aggregate or combine ideas.
You will recall that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Actually there were many people over time who helped “invent” the light bulb. According to About.com, Thomas Alva Edison was the 9th person in the line of inventors who worked on the electric light bulb. Edison improved upon it. Notice the electric light development timeline below.
1809 - Humphry Davy, an English chemist, invented the first electric light. Davy connected two wires to a battery and attached a charcoal strip between the other ends of the wires. The charged carbon glowed making the first arc lamp.
1820 - Warren De la Rue enclosed a platinum coil in an evacuated tube and passed an electric current through it. His lamp design worked but the cost of the precious metal platinum made this an impossible invention for wide-spread use.
1835 - James Bowman Lindsay demonstrated constant electric lighting system using a prototype light bulb.
1850 - Edward Shepard invented an electrical incandescent arc lamp using a charcoal filament. Joseph Wilson Swan started working with carbonized paper filaments the same year.
1854 - Henricg Globel, a German watchmaker, invented the first true light bulb. He used a carbonized bamboo filament placed inside a glass bulb.
1875 - Herman Sprengel invented the mercury vacuum pump making it possible to develop a practical electric light bulb, making a really good vacuum inside the bulb possible.
1875 - Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans patented a light bulb.
1878 - Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914), an English physicist, was the first person to invent a practical and longer-lasting electric light bulb (13.5 hours). Swan used a carbon fiber filament derived from cotton.
1879 - Thomas Alva Edison invented a carbon filament that burned for forty hours. Edison placed his filament in an oxygen-less bulb. (Edison evolved his designs for the light bulb based on the 1875 patent he purchased from inventors, Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans.)
1880 - Edison continued to improve his light bulb until it could last for over 1200 hours using a bamboo-derived filament.
1903 - Willis Whitnew invented a filament that would not make the inside of a light bulb turn dark. It was a metal-coated carbon filament (a predecessor to the tungsten filament).
1906 - The General Electric Company was the first to patent a method of making tungsten filaments for use in incandescent light bulbs. The filaments were costly.
1910 - William David Coolidge (1873-1975) invented an improved method of making tungsten filaments. The tungsten filament outlasted all other types of filaments and Coolidge made the costs practical.
1925 - The first frosted light bulbs were produced.
1991 - Philips invented a light bulb that lasts 60,000 hours. The bulb uses magnetic induction.
In this lesson, we want to help you look at ideas that you have, learn to combine them with other ideas, and see a better, more elegant, more productive, more strategic, more useful idea come to light.
Watch the video (5:09 minutes) about combining ideas to come up with a better cupcake pan. It’s a little wacky and melodramatic, but entertaining.