Skip to main content
Select Source:

Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson

Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson (1828–1914). Born at Sunderland and educated in local schools, Swan was apprenticed to a local pharmacist. In his spare time he carried out electrical and other experiments. He attended lectures and read scientific books and journals at the Sunderland Athenaeum, before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne, where he became a partner in a pharmacy. A photographic business and a scientific instruments department were soon added. Swan invented an improved photographic printing technique, the ‘Carbon Process’ (1864) and the ‘Bromide Paper’ (1879), which is still in use. In December 1878 and February 1879 he demonstrated his first incandescent electric bulbs. To provide his lamp filaments, Swan invented the first synthetic fibre. Legal disputes between the Swan and Edison lighting interests were solved by creating a joint venture. Swan lived in the south of England from 1883; he received many honours, including fellowship of the Royal Society in 1894 and a knighthood in 1904.

Norman McCord

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 25, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/swan-sir-joseph-wilson

"Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved July 25, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/swan-sir-joseph-wilson

Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson

Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, 1828–1914, English chemist and physicist. He made an incandescent lamp using a carbon filament (1860), 20 years before Edison's lamp. Noted for important contributions to photography as well, he devised the first commercially practical process for carbon printing, introduced the dry plate, and invented bromide paper. Swan also experimented with the production of man-made fibers. He was knighted in 1904.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 25, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/swan-sir-joseph-wilson

"Swan, Sir Joseph Wilson." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 25, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/swan-sir-joseph-wilson