Five of the century-old light bulbs were discovered in a time capsule buried 100 years ago at GE's Lighting's Nela Park world headquarters. One of them still worked.
Talk about illuminating the past. In preparation for the 100th anniversary of an industrial park in the Cleveland area next year, GE Lighting dug up a time capsule at one of Nela Park's original buildings. The capsule itself contained some artifacts like a local paper and photographs.
But the real find was buried in sand above the capsule: Five incandescent light bulbs, at least one of which still worked when plugged in.
GE spokesman David Schuellerman said via email the company thought the bulbs were buried inside the capsule, making the fact that any of them survived even more remarkable. One bulb was full of water and the other had condensation on the inside, but the other three "appeared in working order," he said. One bulb plugged in at the site of the time capsule ceremony did, in fact, work. Schuellerman said a repeat test was done later in a lab on that bulb and it worked a second time.
"We believe the bulb that we successfully tested was a 40-watt tungsten filament incandescent bulb," he said. Both tungsten and carbon filament bulbs were buried with the time capsule. Schuellerman said the company might test the other two bulbs once it determined what kind they were.
For now, the bulbs are in a Nela Park lab. "We’re cleaning and examining them, using etchings on the glass and written records to determine 1912 performance metrics such as light output," Schuellerman said. Eventually, the bulbs will be put on display at the GE Lighting Institute at Nela Park.