100 Year Old Incandescent Light Bulbs Still Work


I’m an admirer of technology and the free market. I love how the the constant drive of necessity and invention spurs creative destruction in the marketplace. It’s happening at a more rapid pace in our society right now than perhaps any other time in human history. Cell phones and laptops that are the next big thing one month are superseded, sometimes in a matter of weeks, by the next big thing.

But while I enjoy watching this rapid evolution of technology, it casts technologies that stand the test of time in an even sharper contrast. Case in point, the incandescent light bulb. It was invented over a century ago and, with some tweaks and improvements, is still very much a relevant technology today. In fact, a recently-opened time capsule from the Edison era contained some incandescent light bulbs that, despite being over a century old, still worked:

An amazing story.

What’s irksome is that this technology is currently under attack from the government. It’s one thing to see an older technology replaced because something new and better comes along. It’s quite another to see a technology driven from the marketplace because the government decides they’d rather have Americans use something else.

It took the federal government $50 million in subsidies to create a $50 replacement for the incandescent light bulb which usually costs around $1. And still, I’m guessing most consumers would rather have an incandescent bulb.

Maybe we ought to let Americans make their own choices about light bulbs. As other technology markets prove, when something better comes along Americans will make the switch (and spend their money to do so). But when the government has to push some new technology on us, that usually means Americans aren’t choosing it on their own because it really isn’t better.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Wesbutte

    Bought a life time supply of bulbs.  No curly cue bulbs for me.

  • igx

    I think George Bush got involved with this nonsense. Fluorescent lights suck in most situations. 

  • Truther

    Thank you President Bush!

    • I H8 GOPers

        It’s not all Bush’s fault.  Fred Upton, Republican from Michigan, is the author of the light bulb ban.

      • 2hotel9

         And here is IDLT, toddling in to spew more sh*t and lies, as she always does. What a pathetic, racist Democrat Party c*nt you are.

  • SigFan

    I heard about this on the drive in this morning.  Pretty cool that a device invented and manufactured more than 100 years ago still works today.  Edison was perhaps one of the greatest inventive minds of all time, but even if you disagree with that you have to admit his work changed the world for the better.

    • awfulorv

      And, when you think of it, the NLRB would have tried to put him in jail for abusing his workers. ” Damn it, you will work on this project till you get it right” and, after another 85 tests, they did get it right. You can’t say visionaries, like these, didn’t show us what it takes to succeed.  It was the pusses, the Liberals, the America last folks, who said  “these successful people will have to be curtailed, they’re making too much money and working their employees too hard”. Now they wonder where the jobs went…The builder of every new home in America should, especially if a underground pool is involved, be obliged to consider configuring that home with a Thermal Heat and Cooling system. A system which uses the heat of the soil, or pool, that absorbs a high percent of the suns heat, to reduce the COST of heating and cooling the homes they’re installed in.  Or, we could just give stimulus money to union members, who already have jobs, that’ll work just as well.

      • Camsaure

        You called Edison a visionary, I might argue that he be called a luminary in this instance.

    • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

      Yeah?  Those were out of a time-capsule.  Big deal.  What about this?

      “The Centennial Light Bulb, at Fire Station No. 6 in Livermore, Calif.,
      has been burning bright since it was first installed in 1901. (The exact
      date appears unknown, though the bulb’s “birthday” is typically held in
      June, most recently June 18th.) Since then, the 60-watt bulb has been
      alight 24 hours a day, operating at about 4 watts, to provide night
      illumination of the fire engines.”

      • SigFan

         I remember reading about this somewhere once before – pretty amazing.  Of course the greenies would hate it, but that makes it all the better IMO.

        • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

          Yeah, it made the news about 30 years ago when it reached it’s 70th “birthday.”  Might it be that there are still ways to make an incandescent bulb better—maybe for less than $50?  They should do a careful post mortem on it after it dies, if it does.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      The other day I was thinking about John M. Browning in this same context.

      Two of his weapons, the Colt Model 1911 (100 years old last year) and the M2 “Ma Deuce” .50 caliber machine gun, are still in widespread use today.  And actions he developed – notably the pump-action shotgun and the lever-action – are still in use today too.

      They’ve really stood the test of time.

      • Camsaure

        Yes and the left hates them also.

      • SigFan

        Though I own quite a few semi-automatic handguns, my go-to remains a Kimber 1911.  Still the best, most accurate and reliable in the arsenal.  Manufacturers like Kimber and Les Baer make some minor tweaks to the original design from time to time, but I bet Browning would recognize every single thing about them as essentially his original design.

        • 2hotel9

           Love my 1911, but my regular carry piece is my Walther P-1/38, another old design that has stood the test of time and service. Absolutely will not fire unless you pull the trigger, and you can check for load simply by touching the indicator stud above the hammer.

          Browning influenced most of the firearms development since 1900, along with Hiram Maxim. And both of them were fans of Edison, although Maxim had quite the fight with Edison over which of them invented the lightbulb.

          • I H8 GOPers

             It figures that you’d like the foreign guns over American ones.

          • 2hotel9

             Really, IDLT? Clearly you have no idea who designed the P 38. What a stupid c*nt you prove yourself to be with every comment you post.

  • Sparkie Arbuckle

    GE.  Got any better example of a big government sponsored company?  Give me a f*cking break.

    • Jfisher17

      Why would we give you a break?

      • two_amber_lamps

         When he says “gimme a break” he really means “gimme a drink!”

        • headward

          By GE, he means Government Erections

      • Sparkie Arbuckle

        Port is acting as if innovation and free marketism are responsible somehow.  I am pointing out that his is fricking dreaming, and that GE is a big government sponsored company.  This was especially true back in the day.

        • 2hotel9

          Ah, look, sparkie is spewing more lies and sh*t. How special, a sh*t andf lie spewing c*nt spewing lies and sh*t. Bless its little heart.

  • DopeyDem


  • Camsaure

    I have a 99 year old Mazda 15 watt bulb that had been in my great aunts basement since 1913 when her town got electricity, she gave it to me in abouty 1967 and replaced it with a new one. It still works but is not in daily use. Kinda cool I thought.Even though at 15 watts it is a bit dim it can’t be a Democrat bulb cause it still works.

    • VocalYokel

       “…it is a bit dim…”

      I’m sure Big Government will have a program for the poor unfortunate victim of Father Time any day now…unless the Democrats choose to run it for public office first.

  • borborygmi

    That is pretty cool,  now try reading by it in the dark.

    • I H8 GOPers

       I tried it. I can read it fine.

  • 2hotel9

    Why are people so amazed by this. Incandescent bulbs are the ultimate in KISS. The gauge of the filament is the main factor in how long a bulb lasts, that and not having power surges or drops being the other major factor.

    And as for long lived bulbs, my motherinlaw brought a porch light fixture from her house in Chevy Chase to her house here in PA, a very nice brass and stained glass piece, and it had the original bulb she put in it in 1958. And yes, it is still working.  

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