June 6

There’s been an incandescent light bulb that’s been on since 1901 and still… it’s still on

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The Centennial Light has been burning brightly since 1901 and is a powerful testament to what is called “planned obsolescence” in economics and industrial design.

On the ceiling of fire station 6, Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department in Livermore, California, there is a filament bulb dubbed the “Centennial Light”, which has been burning since 1901 to this day. The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized this as the world’s longest-lasting light bulb.

The Centennial Light bulb was designed by inventor Adolphe A. Chaillet and handcrafted by Ohio-based Shelby Electric. It was originally designed to give 30W or 60W of light output. Now it is still bright but quite dim, only 4W, equivalent to a night light. But that’s okay, it’s still a miracle to light up until today.

During its long illustrious life, the Centennial Light bulb went out many times, however whether it was due to an electrical problem or due to human intervention, it was still no problem in itself. Back in 2015, the town’s authorities held a party to celebrate the legendary light bulb’s 1 million o’clock in the morning.

In addition to being the world’s longest-lasting light bulb, the Centennial Light has a deeper meaning than that. It eloquently illustrates the so-called “planned obsolescence” in economics and industrial design. That is, a product is made that has been calculated to be obsolete, intentionally damaged in order to maintain sales. Simply put, don’t make something so good that it breaks and people buy it again.

Thomas Edison’s first commercially available light bulb in 1881 had a standard lifespan of 1500 hours, and soon light bulb manufacturers announced they had a 2,500-hour bulb. But by 1924, the major light bulb manufacturers in the US and Europe had secretly convened to limit the lamp life to 1,000 hours. By 1940, 1000-hour bulbs had become the norm. It was not until 1953 when the incident was revealed that General Electric and other industry giants were banned from limiting lamp life.

Back to the Centennial Light, it was produced before the life-limiting thing was born, it is a miracle in itself until today. If you are interested in this bulb then visit centennialbulb.org, this website will update pictures of Centennial Light bulb every 30 seconds.

Synopsis:

  • There is a filament light bulb called “Centennial Light”, it has been burning since 1901 to this day.
  • It was originally designed to give 30W or 60W of light output. Now it is still bright but quite dim, only 4W, equivalent to a night light.
  • In 2015, the authorities of the town held a party to celebrate the 1 million o’clock in the morning of the legendary light bulb.

In addition to being the world’s longest-lasting light bulb, the Centennial Light is also an eloquent demonstration of so-called “planned obsolescence” in economics and industrial design.


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Community Network, discover, light bulb, strange story


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