“filament” : a fine wire or connection.
What’s in a name…
When you ask most people who invented the light bulb they will, incorrectly, tell you it was Edison. The actual invention of the bulb should really be attributed to Volta, Swan, Goebel or several others working in this field prior to Edison. The reason for this common misconception is that Edison did something far greater than invent it. He turned it into a product, and then brought that product to the world.
So what’s the difference between and invention and a product?
What if I told you that I had invented a working time machine, yes that’s right just call me Doc Brown. The time machine however can only move you back or forward in time by 0.0001 of a second. Although it is a remarkable technical achievement the reality is that no one would use it other than for a brief gimmick. This is where the difference between invention and product lies.
A product goes beyond invention as it satisfies more than the technical requirements, it combines technical with user and market needs creating a seamless interaction adding real value to people’s lives.
Now back to the light bulb…
Although others invented the idea of the bulb, the early filaments they used to carry the current and produce light would only last for a very short period of time. The energy emitted by the arcing of the wire would break it shortly after it had been lit…”let there be light!”, if only for a brief moment. Edison referred to these early prototypes as “parlor ticks” and had something far greater in mind. He arguably had two great achievements going from parlor trick to product, the achievements of which revolve around the humble filament.