Case Study outline

“We thus find, that whereas down to the end of the last century our modes of producing and utilising light were almost exactly the same as had been in use for the preceding two or three thousand years, in the present century we have made no less than three new departures, all of which are far superior to the methods of our forefathers. These are—(1) the improvement in lamps by the use of the principle of the Argand burner and chimney; (2) lighting by coal-gas ; and (3) the various modes of electric lighting.”

The Wonderful Century : Its Successes and Its Failures by Alfred Russel Wallace.


”The usual view of our age is that obsolescence is merely an economic phenomenon occasioned by technical advances and be pricing. The cost of the maintenance of old equipment outruns the cost of its replacement with new and more efficient items.”

The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things (1962) by George Kubler


In 1878 young Thomas Edison started developing a better and safer light source. His work resulted in him creating a practical incandescent lamp which was the beginning of modern electric lighting. However Edison didn’t bring light to the world for the first time. The evolution of artificial light has moved onward ever since the first primitive humans invented fire. In the 18th century people moved on from plain fire and torches to candles and oil lamps, and in the 19th century gas lamps. By the 1850’s, most city streets in the United States and Europe were illuminated by gas lamps, which reduced crime rates and increased literacy. In 1802 the first experiments for electric light started. Many scientists played a part in developing electric light bulbs on the way, but it wasn’t until towards the end of 1800’s when Edison came along and succeeded to develop in to a commercial level. As electricity became more widespread during the turn of the century, gas lamps were replaced by incandescent lamps in streets, businesses, and theaters. In addition to allowing us to turn nigh into day, we have artificial light to thank, for example, for the wide spread electric power distribution, and many modern medical and scientific methods and inventions.



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