Shining light on a conspiracy

The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy tells the tale of how early bulbs were essentially under-engineered in order to keep sales at a healthy level. This ‘conspiracy’ was set in motion by the Phoebus Cartel, an affiliation of big bulb manufacturers to plan obsolescence into their products and set bulb life at around 1,000 hours. Before the cartel’s actions gained traction, lightbulbs were tough old things that could last for a substantial amount of time – the famous 4-watt Centennial Bulb at Livermore Fire Department in California hasn’t been switched off for over a hundred years, becoming a celebrity object in its own right (Bulbcam). Some more light bulb Methuselahs. Related – we’ve recently been trying the LIFX ‘smart’ lightbulb, presumably a first step towards that all-consuming ‘internet of things’ everyone keeps talking about. The idea of linking light bulbs into your wi-fi network is not an intuitive one, but it could catch on.

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