Old House Journal - - Restore - BY MARY ELLEN POL­SON

Some­where, Thomas Alva Edi­son is laugh­ing out loud. Even an act of Congress couldn’t break Amer­ica of its fond­ness for the in­can­des­cent bulb—or at least its gen­tly rounded pro­file. Af­ter decades of at­tempts to build a bet­ter light bulb with tech­nol­ogy rang­ing from tubu­lar flu­o­res­cents to hot-to-the-touch halo­gens, the big­gest news in light­ing is . . . the Edi­son looka­like fil­a­ment LED. Your eyes aren’t de­ceiv­ing you: these en­ergy-sip­ping bulbs come in a slew of early 20th-century in­can­des­cent pro­files, from the clas­sic in­verted-pear shape to globe, tube, can­de­labra, and more. That’s not the only blast from the past, ei­ther: gaslight is mak­ing a come­back, too.

LIGHT­ING HAS AL­WAYS BEEN driven by tech­nol­ogy and avail­able sources of en­ergy. In the 18th century, that meant can­dle­power; in the 19th, whale oil, kerosene, and gas; in the 20th, elec­tric­ity. Fix­tures were defined in large part by how the fuel source burned: Can­de­labra and chan­de­liers were equipped with many up­right arms to hold burn­ing wax can­dles. Jet­ted gasoliers were wed­ded to fixed po­si­tions to tap into ded­i­cated gas lines.

The elec­tric light bulb turned all that on its head. Edi­son’s car­bon-fil­a­ment bulb could op­er­ate in any po­si­tion: up, down, side­ways, or tilted at an angle. Not only that, Edi­son made [ text cont. on page 44]

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