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Longest burning light bulb, The centennial light bulb in livermore, California

The world's longest lasting light bulb holds the Guinness World Record, and has been illuminating local fire stations in Livermore, California since 1901, the year Queen Victoria died.

Originally a 30-watt lamp, the Centennial Light now produces nearly as much light as a 4-watt nightlight. The hand-blown, carbon-filament common light bulb was created by French inventor Adolphe Chaillet, who also applied for a patent for it. It was produced in the late 1890s by the Shelby Electric Company in Shelby, Ohio, and many others just like it are still in use today.

Dennis Bernal, according to Zylpha Bernal Beck, gave the lightbulb to the fire department in 1901. The Livermore Power and Water Company was owned by Bernal, who also donated the lightbulb to the fire department after selling the business.

In 1972, journalist Mike Dunstan discovered its extraordinary tenacity. After spending weeks interviewing residents of Livermore who had lived there all of their lives, he published “Light Bulb May Be World’s Oldest” in the Tri-Valley Herald.

Longest burning light bulb 1
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Dunstan got in touch with General Electric, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and the Guinness Book of World Records, all of which confirmed that it was the world’s longest-lasting bulb. The post was informed to Charles Kuralt of the CBS-TV program On the Road with Charles Kuralt.

In order to prevent the bulb from being destroyed if the lamp’s socket was unscrewed, the cord was severed before the lamp was moved to Fire Station #6 for the fire department in 1976. Only 22 minutes were lost during the switch, which was carried out in a specially constructed box with a full firetruck escort.

The emergency generator at the new fire station was connected to the light bulb by an electrician on site. According to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the brief interruption will not affect the bulb’s history of consistent fires. Since then, the light has been powered by an uninterruptible power source; previously, it had only been taken off the grid for brief periods of time (for example, a week in 1937 for a renovation).

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centennial light bulb with webcam. photo credit:

A dedicated webcam allowed the general public to see the bulb had apparently burned out on the evening of May 20, 2013. The following morning, an electrician was contacted to confirm the situation. The light wasn’t burned out, as was discovered when the dedicated power source was turned off using an extension cable. The power supply was found to be broken. The sun had been out for nearly nine hours and 45 minutes before it was finally restored.

Fun Facts About the Bulb

  • The Centennial Light Bulb turned 100 years old in 2001. There was live music and a community barbecue!
  • In 2013, those who keep an eye on bulbs were startled when the light seemed to go out. Fortunately, a bad power supply was the culprit. Shortly after, the Centennial Light Bulb lit up.
  • The live webcam on the light bulb allows you to check on its progress even though it might not make for particularly compelling entertainment.

A Burning Conspiracy

The Centennial Bulb is more than just a piece of filament, metal, and glass artifact. Given its past and remarkable durability, there must be more to this tiny relic than just its production. The most well-known lightbulb myth is that once upon a time, things were made to last. Beginning in the 1920s, a group of businessmen understood that if a product refused to age, then it would spell the end for their industry. The first global cartel to shorten the life of the incandescent light bulb was soon after established.

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