It is no exaggeration to say that the incandescent light bulb changed human civilization. With the advent of light bulbs, people could suddenly work and recreate deep into the night without relying on open flame (and its attendant heat, smoke and inherent danger) to illuminate a room.
While the impact of the electric light bulb is without dispute, the origins of the invention tend to be more open for debate. Conventional wisdom gives the credit to American Thomas Alva Edison, who obtained the earliest patents for incandescent light bulbs, the first in 1879 and the second in 1880. Yet some historians argue that it's far too reductive to give Edison all the credit. They posit that Edison was the one who invented the light bulb, but it was simply one in a long string of similar inventions.
Others say that while Edison's electric light bulbs did stand out from their forebears, even more credit should go to British inventor Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, who worked on incandescent lamps at the same time and later partnered with Edison. And yet another set of historians argue that this revisionist history is an overcorrection, and Edison is indeed the rightful inventor of the light bulb. So what is the answer?