Today in American history: October 21
Today was significant in the history of electricity in both 1879 and in 1892. In 1879 today, Thomas Edison tested his first practical electric incandescent light bulb, which lasted around fourteen hours before burning out.
Today in 1892, the opening ceremonies for the World’s Columbian Exposition were held in Chicago, introducing the world to a fully and beautifully lit modern attraction. Westinghouse, armed with Nikola Tesla’s alternating current concept, won the bidding war for lighting the Exposition against General Electric’s proposition to light with Edison’s direct-current.
Notoriously bitter towards Tesla, Edison refused to allow him to utilize his incandescent light bulbs and lamps in the fair, believing it would cripple Tesla’s success. However, Westinghouse quickly designed new double-stopper light bulbs and sidestepped Edison’s patents, successfully lighting the exposition.
Above is a photo from 1893 of the Westinghouse electricity exhibit at the Colombian World’s Fair in Chicago.