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Joseph Swan

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Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) was a physicist and chemist born in Sunderland, England[?] who is famous for his development of the light bulb. In 1850 the British pioneer began working with carbonized paper filaments in an evacuated glass bulb. By 1860 he was able to demonstrate a working device but lack of a good vacuum and an adequate supply of electricity resulted in a short lifetime for the bulb and inefficient light. By the mid-1870s better pumps became available, and Swan returned to his experiments.

Swan received a British patent for his device in 1878. Swan reported success to the Newcastle Chemical Society and at a lecture in Newcastle in February 1879 he demonstrated a working lamp that utilized a carbon fibre filament. The most significant feature of Swan's lamp was that there was little residual oxygen in the vacuum tube to ignite the filament, thus allowing the filament was able to glow almost white-hot without catching fire. From this year he began installing light bulbs in homes and landmarks in England and by the early 1880s had started his own company.



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