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If you can read this, thank Thomas Edison and his patent number 223,898. However, it's true that this famous Thomas Edison invention wasn't totally his own creation. It's actually registered as an improvement to the electric lamp as well as a manufacturing method of the same. Patents can be filed not just for new ideas but for significant improvement to old ones. A British man, Joseph Swan was the original demonstrator of the world's first electric light bulb, and a few men before him patented a light bulb but didn't have the capital to commercialize their ideas. So, Edison purchased the rights to their product. He then work fast and diligently to find ways to make the light burn longer and brighter so it's likelihood of commercial success would be greater. Eventually, in 1880, he perfected a 16-watt incandescent bulb that burned up to 1,500 hours.
By September 4th, the first commercial power station was providing light to a square-mile area of lower Manhattan. It's hard to tell if Edison would be happy today to find out that his patent for improvements to the electric lamp has been improved on again and again. These days, with so much interest in protecting the environment, incandescent bulbs are considered less efficient than recently invented improvements such as fluorescent lights and light emitting diodes (LEDs).
Edison's story of patent number 223,898 offers lessons to today's inventors: your idea doesn't have to be completely new to be worth of a patent but you better be able to back it up with investment capital or it might stay stuck in your garage.