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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Call me when you get a clue?
NOT A TRICK QUESTION—If the above was a trick question obviously electricity would have been first as both iconic American inventions utilized harnessed electric power.  But for the sake of this blog we ask what came first Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone or Thomas Edison’s light bulb?  Hard to imagine life without either one.

Bragging rights go to Alex Bell.  

Alexander Graham Bell, 1876
Alexander Graham Bell succeeded in making his first successful voice transmission--a very faint, but recognizable sentence transmitted in March of 1876. Prior to this important step, the sounds of the voice could be sent, but not recognizable words. The evolution of the phone and the local phone company both took flying leaps after this success.

By summertime in 1877, the first telephone business--the Bell Telephone Company--was open and installing telephone service. Private lines were installed in the first homes, usually to connect people to their offices. The Bell Telephone Company was the earliest incarnation of what would later become AT&T. Today's local phone service is far more sophisticated than what was installed in offices and homes in 1877, but for its time the service was every bit as revolutionary as the Internet would become more than a hundred years later.


Thomas A. Edison invented then perfected the light bulb
Thomas Alva Edison gave the world the first incandescent lamp on October 21, 1879.  By that October, Edison’s team had produced a light bulb with a carbonized filament of uncoated cotton thread that could last for 14.5 hours. They continued to experiment with the filament until settling on one made from bamboo that gave Edison’s lamps a lifetime of up to 1,200 hours -- this filament became the standard for the Edison bulb for the next 10 years. Edison also made other improvements to the light bulb, including creating a better vacuum pump to fully remove the air from the bulb and developing the Edison screw (what is now the standard socket fittings for light bulbs).

Speaking of inventions.  It seems the Nobel Prize doesn't shine its spotlight on inventors.  Here are 10 big time inventions that Nobel judges ignored:

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