History of Illumination – The Origin of the Edison Bulb

The modern Edison bulbs are seen as a cool way to add some vintage style to your home, but did you know they revolutionized the industry? Given the resurgence in popularity, we decided to share the history of the Edison bulb and see why one of the most innovative products has stood the test of time.

An Early History of Illumination

At one time, our only source of illumination was fire and light provided from the sun and moon.  Then, in 1790 England, gas lighting became popular. However, it proved to be unstable and dangerous, as many theatres and homes perished in fire. In 1809, electric arc lighting was invented, which, while safer than gas, was proven to be too bright for small areas. There had to be a better way…

Thomas Edison

1880 – enter Thomas Edison, and the first commercially sustainable incandescent light bulb, AKA, The Edison Bulb.

Original carbon-filament bulb from Thomas Edison.(bulbs.com)

Born in 1847, an inventor at heart , Thomas Edison took on jobs as a telegrapher and a newspaper carrier to supplement his passion. This allowed him to seek out ways to better do “things”. He credits his mother stating “My mother is the making of me. She understands me; she let me follow my bent” (Jack, 2017).  At the time of his death in 1931 Edison held 1093 US patents and an additional 1139 worldwide.

Image Credit: albertjack.com

On July 24, 1874, a Canadian patent was filed by a medical electrician named Henry Woodward and a colleague Mathew Evans.  In 1879, after unsuccessfully attempting to commercialize their bulb, they sold their patent to Edison (Wikipedia, 2017).

In 1879, Edison filed another U.S. patent for an electric lamp using a carbon filament or strip coiled. Although the patent described several ways of creating the carbon filament, it was not until several months after the patent was granted that Edison and his team discovered that a carbonized bamboo filament could last over 1200 hours. This discovery marked the beginning of commercially manufactured light bulbs and in 1880, Thomas Edison’s company, Edison Electric Light Company began marketing its new product.

History at a Glance

  • 1906 – The General Electric Company were the first to patent a method of making tungsten filaments for use in incandescent light bulbs. Edison knew tungsten would prove to be the best choice for filaments, however, the machinery needed to produce the wire in such a fine form was not available at the time.
  • 1910 – William David Coolidge of General Electric improved the process of making tungsten filaments.
  • 1920s – The first frosted light bulb is produced.
  • 1930s – The flash bulbs for photography were invented. The fluorescent tanning lamp was also invented.
  • 1940s – The first ‘soft light’ incandescent bulbs were produced.
  • 1950s – Quartz glass and halogen light bulb are produced.
  • 1980s – New low wattage metal halides are created.
  • 1990s – Long life bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs make their debut.

Image Credit: homedepot.com

The future of the Edison bulb was “dim”, as modern incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient. The Edison bulb converts less than 10% of electricity supplied into light – the rest is expelled as heat. However, these inefficient light bulbs are still sought after today and have been revolutionized with modern LED technology. Edison-style bulbs are created in a more efficient way to allow customers to have both a stylish and efficient bulb.

Image: Z-Lite fixture 8001-6C-BRZ


Jack, A. (2017, September 22). Thomas Edison Biography. Retrieved from https://albertjack.com/2017/09/22/thomas-edison-biography/

Nostalgicbulbs.com. (2017, May 13). Edison Bulbs History. Retrieved from https://www.nostalgicbulbs.com/blogs/vintage-bulbs/edison-bulbs-history

Wikipedia. (2017, November 14). Canada. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada

Wikipedia. (2017, November 19). Patent. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent

Wikipedia. (2017, March 21). Henry Woodward (inventor). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Woodward_%28inventor%29

Wikipedia. (2017, May 15). Mathew Evans. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathew_Evans

Z-Lite Inc. 30th Anniversary Interview

Did you know Z-Lite Inc. turned 30 this year? As the year comes to a close, we thought it would be a good time to look at the past 30 years of success Z-Lite Inc. has had and what we hope to get out of the next 30 and beyond.

As a part of our 30th anniversary celebrations, we decided to reach out and interview our president Scott Zimmer and ask his thoughts on the past, present and future of Z-Lite.

Anniversary Interview

Z-Lite: First off, we’d like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.

SZ: You’re welcome.

The Early Years

Z-Lite: What does 30 years of Z-Lite mean to you?

SZ: Accomplishment and satisfaction.

Z-Lite: Let’s go back now; what were the early days like?

SZ: The early days were hard work but they were exciting fun.

Z-Lite: From day one, family has been a part of this business. What is it like to work with your family?

SZ: Challenging and fulfilling.

Z-Lite: Are there any fixtures or family of fixtures that have really helped the company grow? A Z-Lite’s greatest hits if you will.

SZ: To begin with Z-Lite manufactured stained-glass Tiffany style light fixtures, this was what defined Z-Lite. The most popular offering was Tiffany-style billiard lighting – meant to be hung over a billiard table. Due to the popularity with our billiard lights, we expanded our selection of billiard lighting. The next big trend weoriginal-tiffany-stained-glass were involved with was fabric drum shade fixtures. That trend was popular for a long time and still exists in a small way today and again helped Z-Lite grow.

Today, with over 4000 items in our line, specific fixtures or collections are harder to spot, but most recently the trends have been styles that are similar to industrial and vintage styles as well as fixtures that use LED technology.

Growing Pains

Z-Lite: Now something that hasn’t been around this entire time is the internet. How did the internet change things for Z-Lite?

SZ: I think the biggest change initially was communication, and secondly marketing.

Z-Lite: Over the years styles change and come, what’s been a style that has remained consistent, if any?

SZ: It seems to me that there are many themes that come and go and come again, but each time they contemporized using simpler and cleaner shapes. While the styles keep changing they seem to be similar to past styles but modernized.


Z-Lite: Over these 30 years, when did you first feel like you had really succeeded?

SZ: I was asked these questions many times in my life – “Do you feel successful?” “When will you feel that you are a success”, etc…I couldn’t answer. Each time I was asked these questions I thought to myself how will I feel then, will I know then, but when was then? After a few years of ups and downs, good times and bad, and always feeling the same motivation and drive to continue, I finally came up with an answer. I am successful and always have been, because I love what I do.

Z-Lite: With that in mind, what has been your biggest professional accomplishment?

SZ: I think our biggest accomplishment to date has been opening a second distribution center, our first in the USA.

Z-Lite: What is your philosophy when it comes to business?

SZ: Patience and persistence.

Z-Lite: What is it like being a Canadian in this huge global industry?

SZ: I don’t think of being a Canadian as a negative or a positive in terms of the global industry. However, I will say that I am proud and happy to be Canadian and my experience travelling around the world makes me appreciate what we have in Canada.

Z-Lite: What are some issues facing the lighting industry lately and how has Z-Lite dealt with these issues?

SZ: The latest change is the switch to LED light sources, some built in to the fixtures, some as bulbs. This has presented a huge learning curve for many in the lighting industry. Z-Lite set its sights on using high quality LED with replaceable components in fixtures where it makes good sense to do so. These include fixtures that are on a good portion of the time, fixtures that are difficult to access to change bulbs, and fixtures where the design dictates that LED is good light source for them due to the space available. That is why LED is beneficial for these fixtures, as they are energy efficient, have a long life and can be made very small to fit unique fixtures – like our Aeon collection.

The Fun Stuff

Z-Lite: Do you have a current favourite fixture or family?

SZ: Aeon, this is a very modern style LED fixture.


Z-Lite: Favourite finish on a fixture?

SZ: Natural Brass, it is like a brass that is aging.

Z-Lite: Would you describe your decor style as traditional, transitional, or modern?

SZ: Mostly transitional but it spans from that to modern.

Z-Lite: If you could have any celebrity endorse your product, who would you choose?

SZ: Honestly, I don’t know. Anyone would do, as long as they legitimately used the product and liked it and found that it enhanced their life.

Z-Lite: Is there anyone along this journey you’d like to thank?

SZ: I’d say my family for sticking by me, and our employees for being committed, loyal and hardworking.

Z-Lite: Where do you see yourself and Z-Lite in the next thirty years?

SZ: Still enjoying everyday, and still growing.

Z-Lite: Thank you again for having this interview with us and happy 30th anniversary !

SZ: I thank you as well.


We were so happy to speak with Scott about his journey with Z-Lite Inc. and it’s easy to see what carried Z-lite to it’s 30th anniversary, and what will continue to carry it to the next 30 – passion.

Thank you all for helping us reach this major milestone. We look forward to celebrating our anniversary with you now and in the future.


Z-Lite Team

Pro Tip: Grand Entrance Lighting

Grand Entrance Lighting

First impressions are important! Whether it be for a job interview, or your first date with someone new, you want to make a good impression. The same is true when it comes to home décor! Your entryway sees the most traffic and will always have the most eyes on it. You want to ensure that the entryway of your home reflects your home’s personality and leaves a lasting impression. A quick fix to brighten up your home is to change out your lighting fixtures in the entryway.

Selecting a lighting fixture for your entryway can be overwhelming as there are so many different things to consider.

Will the door hit the light?

Will it be bright enough?

What about the style?

Should I use a pendant, a flush mount or something else?

Not to worry!

We have put together a selection of tips and tricks to help you get the grand entrance that your home deserves!


Pendant vs Flush Mount Lighting

Pendant or flush mount? That decision is entirely up to you, but here are some things to consider.

Is it a single-height space or double-height space?

In a single-height space, you are more likely to prefer the look of a flush mount or semi-flush mount. This will allow your family and visitors to walk freely under the fixture without fear of injury. In a double-height space you have more room to play! A pendant or semi-flush mount fixture could hang beautifully in the space.

Where is the light box placed?

Unless you are planning to pay for an electrician to move the position of your light box or are doing a new build, the placement of your light box will determine how far down your fixture could hang, and also the height of the fixture you choose. If your light box is hung in the door’s swinging range you will want to ensure that your light is not in the line of fire! Give your light 3-4” of clearance to ensure that when you bring something large through the door, your light will not be impacted.

Style is Everything!

The style of your entryway should compliment the style of your home. Are you interested in a clear, clean-cut contemporary look? Or have your design decisions been influenced by the vintage, industrial trends? Whatever your style, be sure to choose a lighting fixture that compliments it!


The Bulbs… Oh the Bulbs!

Creating the perfect inviting glow into your home is essential to creating the right impression. The type of bulb you use in your fixture will have a significant impact on the kind of light cast from the fixture. To give a warm and welcoming feeling to your entryway, use warm-colour temperature lamps like incandescent and halogen bulbs. Using a dimmer will also help to add flair to your entryway. If you choose a high-efficiency light source like a LED fixture or fluorescent, use a 2700K temperature.

Looking for more entryway inspiration check out our Pinterest Page!