Installed in a fire station in Livermore, California, the four watt bulb has been declared the oldest known working light bulb by the Guinness Book of World Records. Today, on June 18, the world’s oldest-known working light bulb reaches another milestone, and will begin its 110th year of operation.
The bulb was originally donated to the fire station. It was designed by Adolphe Chaillet, who competed with Thomas Edison to make the best light bulb in town. With the exception of a brief period in 1903, a week in 1937 and some power outages between then and 1976, the light bulb is still shining.
Despite his design, Chailet was never as successful as Edison, even though his bulb was proved to survive higher voltages. Bulb protector Steve Bunn said the secret of the light’s success was engineering. He said: “They certainly don’t make them like this anymore, it’s a real sign of how some things were better made in the past.”
“The man who invented the bulb was Adolphe Chailet and he sounded by all accounts to be a very serious person. But when it comes to spark, he did perform an experiment where several competitors, including Edison. All the bulbs were subjected to a test of increasing voltage, and exploded, all except for Chailet’s, which just got brighter.”
Mr Bunn said he received a letter from the Arctic Circle, which said that ‘the little bulb was a beacon of light for the whole world, even in dark and lonely places’. He added, ‘As well as the fact this little bulb was burning when my grandparents were children, it’s amazing’.
Mr Bunn said he had invited a friend of his dad, who had just turned 100, to see it. “His response on seeing it he said: ‘Oh I saw enough of those growing up, I can picture it in my mind.'”
The chairman of the town’s light bulb centennial committee Lynn Owens, said that the light’s longevity has baffled scientists. Lynn said: “Nobody knows how it’s possible.”
“It is a 60 watt bulb and it’s only turned on for about four watts but nobody knows why it keeps burning. We’ve had scientists from all over the country look at this light bulb. Of course nobody has ever been able to touch this it.”
This light bulb even has a fan club with thousands of members and its own website. It has become a tourist draw for Livermore. Today the Centennial Light Bulb Committee organizes a neighbourhood party in its honour. [header photo via Jake Meyers/Flickr; via The Telegraph, The News Feed, Yahoo! News and Daily Mail]