In 1876, Edison opened a lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, and hired a team to help him. They came up with hundreds of inventions. One was the phonograph, a machine that recorded and played sound.
But many consider the long-lasting light bulb to be Edison’s greatest invention. His team worked hard to find the best material for the filament. That’s the thread or wire that lights up when a bulb is turned on.
Edison tried fishing line and the stringy part of a coconut shell. He even used hair from a friend’s beard.
It took hundreds of attempts, but Edison and his team didn’t give up. They tried cotton thread. With that, their bulb glowed for about 13 hours before burning out. Months later, the team found that a bamboo filament worked even better. They used it to create a longer-lasting, affordable bulb.
Edison and his workers also invented the system needed to bring electricity into homes—wires, fuses, and switches to turn the lights on and off.