A new claimant for the invention of the electric light bulb
Electrical circles have been stirred from centre to circumference during the past month by the appearance, under somewhat sensational circumstances, of a new and hitherto unknown claimant for the honor of having invented the incandescent electric lamp, commonly known as the electric light bulb. It will be remembered that the long and expensive litigation over the validity of Edison's patent was only lately decided in his favor against the rival Sawyer-Mann patents.
The General Electric Company, which is the owner of the Edison patent, promptly proceeded to bring suit against a number of manufacturers engaged in the manufacture of glow lamps (electric light bulbs) for infringement. The company was proceeding aggressively and successfully in having restraining order: and injunctions issued against such offenders, until near the close of January, when they struck a snag in the form of a defence of a new and startling character offered by one of the manufucturers whom they had summoned into court.
This defence was neither more nor less than the allegation, backed by numerous affidavits and a number of exhibits, that one Henry Goebel, a German, who has been for many years a resident of New York, where he had followed the trade of a watchmaker, had himself invented, used and repeatedly exhibited in his shop, and in the streets of New York, previous to the year 1860, incandescent electric lamps, lighted by means of primary battery, and which, in every essential particular, in the use of a carbonized filament of vegetable fiber of high resistance, a vacuum chamber of glass, with leading-in wires of platinum and other metals, fully answers to the description of the Edison lamp of today.
Such prominent electrical experts as Frank L. Pope and Prof. Charles R. Cross, testify, after examination of the exhibits, that the lamps were undoubtedly identical with the Edison lamp in the essential features of employing a high resistance carbonized filament in vacuo.
That such important facts should have slumbered all these years, when they were apparently so accessible, and would have been in such demand in the great suit just won by the Edison interests, is one of the curious things that defy explanation. The outcome of this new turn in the litigation of the lamp question will be watched with intense interest. That the new matter is not esteemed to be dangerous to the Edison interests, is attested by the steadiness of the securities of the company, which, at the time of this writing, appear to have been unaffected by it.