Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, scientist and inventor, c 1890-1900
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) invented the incandescent electric lamp in Britain at about the same time as Thomas Edison (1847-1931) patented it in the USA. He also invented a vacuum pump for light bulbs and several photographic proceses. Later Thomas Edison joined up with Swan to form the Edison & Swan United Electric Light Company.