Updated 17-XI-2018

Dr. Sigmund Bergmann

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

Edison (sitting) with his ally, Sigmund Bergmann (standing), in Berlin, 19112

One of the early associates of Thomas Edison was Sigmund Bergmann (9 Jun 18512 - 7 Jul 1927), a gentleman from Germany. A summary of his activities were listed in an obituary that appeared in the New York Times1:
""BERLIN, July 7, - Dr. Sigmund Bergmann, former partner of Thomas A. Edison and one of the pioneers and leaders in the electrical industry of America and Germany, died here today after a long illness at the age of 75.

"Dr. Bergmann was a native of Thuringia and emigrated to the United States at the age of eighteen after studying mechanical engineering. Shortly after his arrival in the New World he entered the employ of Edison, whose business associate he became within a few years. In 1876 he started his own factory in New York for the manufacture of telegraph, telephone and other electrical apparatus, but his collaboration with Edison continued, and he took a prominent part in the development of the arc light invented by his friend and associate.

"Later Bergmann and Edison jointly organized the firm of S. Bergmann & Co., which finally was taken over by the Edison Electric Light Company and then by the General Electric Company. Edison for a long time had his laboratories in the factory of this firm, working consistently with Bergmann, whose energy, business ability and faculty to execute technical inventions in the simplest form he valued highly.

"In 1891 Dr. Bergmann founded the Berlin firm of S. Bergmann & Co. and also the Bergmann Electromotor and Dynamo Works. Nine years later he decided to return to Germany permanently and unite the two German companies into one concern, which since has become world-famous.

"At the outbreak of the World War Dr. Bergmann was in New York on a business trip and started for home at once. Reaching Berlin after many hardships and humiliations, he placed his works at the disposal of the German Government. After the war he was one of the first German industrialists to adjust their factories to the new conditions and to place production on a peace basis and successfully renew connections with America. During his connection with Edison Dr. Bergmann married Miss Louisa Noll of New York, who survives him."

Sigmund Bergmann was granted at least forty US patents. The socket described in US 298,658 is shown below: (this image is not currently available)

Bergmann's importance in the development of the Edison system was pointed out by Josephson3:
"Early in 1881 Sigmund Bergmann ... went into equal partnership with Edison and Edward Johnson and opened a shop in New York which was to supply lamp sockets, switches, fuses, light fixtures, chemical meters, and other instruments, all devised by Edison. Bergmann, who proved to be an able manufacturer, had to expand his quarters within a year and employ three hundred men."

It was in the year 1889 that the Edison General Electric Company was formed with the consolidation of the Edison Electric Light Company, the Edison Machine Works, the Edison Lamp Company and Bergmann and Company.

Note: The picture of Bergmann was scanned from Reference 2, pg 505.

  1. "Edison's Associate, Dr. Bergmann, Dead", New York Times, 8 Jul 1927, p.19.
  2. "Menlo Park Reminiscences Vol.2", F.Jehl, p.766.
  3. "Edison", M.Josephson, McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., N.Y., 1959, p.249.