History of Switch Manufacturing
Electric switches were invented out of necessity. Having an electrical current flow through a circuit is beneficial, but without a safe and easy way to stop and start it, the possibilities are limited. Switches introduced a new way of using electricity. Thus, the history of electric switches is intertwined with the overall discovery and history of electricity itself. Even though wall light switches are not the only type of electric switch, focusing on their development is helpful for getting an overall sense of how switches have progressed.
The first step toward the development of electric switches can arguably be traced back to 1800, when Italian scientist Alessandro Volta enabled the continuous flow of electrical current (i.e. electric circuits) with the first real battery (known as the voltaic pile). However, significant progress in the refinement and use electric circuits did not occur until much later in the nineteenth century. Thomas Edison was at the forefront of developing electric lighting, which was the first common use of electric circuits for practical or commercial purposes. For a public, New Year’s lighting display at his laboratory (1879-1880), Edison developed may innovative electrical components, including switches. Four years later,Switch manufacturer british engineer John Henry Holmes developed the quick break switch, which accelerated the meeting of electric contacts within a circuit and increased the overall durability of switches by preventing residue buildup.
The quick break switch formed the basis of the next major development in switch technology - the toggle switch.Switch manufacturer created by New York inventors William J. Newton and Morris Goldberg, the toggle switch came to replace push button switches that were popular in the latter nineteenth century. Strikingly, the toggle switch represents the majority of (North American) switches in use today.
Although electric switches have been improved since the first basic switches, the fundamental technology underlying them has not drastically changed. Compared to other forms of technology, electric switches are relatively simple. One example of twentieth-century switch development is the invention of the rocker switch, a version of the toggle switch intended for flat panels that appeared in the 1980s. In essence, however, the prototypical wall switch has remained largely unchanged for practically a century.