Updated 04-I-2018

Daniel K. Wright

This article is based on a document of fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, which appeared on his 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 and subsequently expanded with new material by this author, to maintain continued access to the research he initiated.

Many lamp products are developed by teams of people and several persons may be recognized as the principal developers or inventors. On the other hand there are products that have been marketed that are rightly associated with only a single person. The success of three lamp designs can be attributed mainly to one man, Daniel K. Wright. The three lamps are: a high wattage lamp in which tungsten powder is present to allow bulb blackening to be eliminated by way of mechanical scrubbing, the high wattage incandescent lamps in the 10,000 to 50,000 watt range, and the sealed beam lamp developed for use in automobile headlights.

Dan Wright was born September 25, 1883 in Paterson, New Jersey. He joined the Engineering Department of the Edison Lamp Works at Harrison, New Jersey in the year 1909; in 1922 he was put in charge of mechanical developments. He started to work in the Lamp Development Laboratory at Nela Park in 19271. Daniel Wright was the person behind two of the largest lamps ever produced. The practical incandescent lamp had its beginning with Thomas Edison in the year 1879. As part of the 50th anniversary of this event Wright helped produce a 50,000 watt lamp2.

"To bring the 450-ampere leads inside the bulb, he modified the Housekeeper copper-to-glass seal which had been used in X-ray and other vacuum tubes...Through Wright's contribution and the development of iron-nickel-cobalt alloys in Germany and here, high-current and high-wattage lamps became practicable. Heavy leads were brazed to metal ferrules which, in turn, were sealed to the glass.This construction also withstood appreciably higher temperatures than previous designs and, with the development of Pyrex-type of glass bulbs, led to the design of compact bipost lamps of high wattage-to-size ratios."
Then, in 1954, the 75th anniversary of the development of the Edison lamp took place. On this occasion a 75,000-watt lamp was produced, a picture of which is shown below5. The bulb diameter of this lamp is 20 inches, its height is 42 inches and it weighs 50 pounds. The lamp produces 2,400,000 lumens, the equivalent of 2875 60-watt regular lamps. The filament weighs 2.7 pounds and is 12.5 feet long.

  1. US 1,809,661 - Jun 09 1931 - Electric Lamp (containing tungsten powder cleaner)
  2. US 1,967,852 - Jul 24 1934 - Electric Lamp (Bi-Post base construction)
  3. US 2,069,638 - Feb 02 1937 - Electric Lamp (Bi-Post base construction)
  4. US 2,148,314 - Feb 21 1939 - Electric Lamp (Sealed Beam lamp)
  5. US 2,148,315 - Feb 21 1939 - Electric Lamp (Sealed Beam lamp)

References & Bibliography
  1. "Book of the Incas", 1928.
  2. "Electric Lighting in the First Century of Engineering", R. L. Oetting, Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Vol.71 Part2, Nov 1952.
  3. "Lamps for a Brighter America - A History of the General Electric Lamp Business", Paul W. Keating, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, New York, 1954.
  4. "Lighting", General Electric Review, Vol.58, Jan 1955, p.48.
  5. "General Electric Lamp Bulletin LD-1", C. E. Weitz, May 1946, p.4.
  6. "Makers of National - The Spirit and People of an Industrial Organization", Edward J. Covington, Printed by Graphic Communications Operation, GE Lighting, Nela Park, E. Cleveland, OH 44112, 1997.