Thomas Edison’s original patent on incandescent lamps and 37 original British patent documents related to incandescent lamps were eventually sold at auction for $75,000,media reported. Although Edison eventually had more than 1,000 patents, some of the patents in the archive were undoubtedly his most valuable, and they were one of the most valuable patents ever granted.
The important collection also includes four patents held by Joseph Swan, which appear to be edison-Swan’s European patent archives, which it is understood were the company that commercialized the lights.
Edison and Swann were competitors in the search for a universal home lighting system, and they developed electric lights. Swann publicly displayed his incandescent lamp in London in February 1879, and later that year won his first incandescent patent. Edison also obtained important patents related to electric lights in late 1879 and early 1880, but no patent or the joint efforts of competitors made it impossible to commercialize the lights.
Edison’s path to global domination, however, was not smooth, because in 1883 Edison’s patent was annulled by the U.S. Patent Office because of William E. Sawyer’s counterclaim. Before Edison’s patent came into effect in 1889 and was reinstated, the two sides went on an expensive six-year lawsuit. In 2017, the battle between Edison and George Westinghouse over what kind of power transmission system the United States will use has been the subject of a film called “The Battle of the Power.”
Edison was one of the most important and prolific inventors of all time. His inventions include universal Stock Ticker, a think-at-hand telegraph gramometer, a carbon microphone, the first practical fluorescent mirror, and the first industrial research laboratory. In addition to personal inventions, he also played an important role in the creation of the telephone, radio, recording and film industries.
Edison was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (1928) — the highest civilian medal in the United States. Time magazine ranked Edison as one of the “20 Most Influential Americans”, while Life magazine listed it as “the 100 Most Important People of the Past 1,000 Years” in 1997.