Circuit Breaker History from Civic Recycling: Part 1

circuit breaker history thomas edison breakers

For having a business based around a product, delving into the history of circuit breakers is not something we do very often. We thought it would be fun and informative to take a look at the circuit breaker history, where they came from, who invented them, and where they’re going. Parts of the story are incredibly interesting and there are some names that everyone will recognize from history who had a part in the creation of the modern circuit breaker.

History of Circuit Breakers

Being merely the introduction, today we’ll touch on a few of the notes that predated the modern circuit breaker and leave off with where things were headed at the onset of the 20th century. With that said, let’s jump into the earliest incarnations of the circuit breaker and why its invention was necessitated.

According to the book Edison’s Electric Light: Biography of an Invention, Thomas Edison, the vaunted inventor of the late 19th and early 20th century, had developed an early form of the circuit breaker according to a patent application from 1879. The purpose of his invention at the time was to protect lighting circuit wiring from accidental short circuits and overloads. Now, Edison’s version never quite took off to the extent he had hoped, as his invention was largely in sketches and the idea patented, without a true working product ever coming to fruition. But with these ideas out there, someone eventually picked up on the circuit breaker and brought it into a more commercial light.

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