Edison didn't invent them, but light bulbs have a fascinating 200-year history

LEDs dominate now, but light bulbs have a fascinating 200 year history

For much of history, "most of the world lived in darkness from dusk until dawn. Light was very rare, light was very expensive," said Jane Brox, author of the 2004 book, "Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light."

So when electricity was discovered, says John Jenkins, President and CEO of the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, "It wasn't surprising that ... some individuals would start thinking about, well, how can we use this new continuous electricity to create light?"

Artificial light changed — and continues to change — the world. Now it's all about light emitting diodes, or LEDs. In 2018, the LED lighting market was worth almost $52 billion and is expected to reach over $112 billion by 2024. But 200 years before LEDs were a multibillion-dollar industry, and decades before Edison showed up, light bulbs were an idea just starting to enter the minds of curious scientists.

Watch the video to find out more about the evolution of the light bulb.