Why Lightbulbs Might Be The Best Invention Ever

Lightbulbs could be the greatest notion ever – just not for light. Head to https://brilliant.org/veritasium to start your free 30-day trial, and the first 200 people get 20% off an annual premium subscription.

A big thanks to David Lovett for showing me his awesome relay and vacuum tube based computers. Check out his YouTube channel @UsagiElectric

Herring, C., & Nichols, M. H. (1949). Thermionic emission. Critiques of modern physics, 21(2), 185. – https://ve42.co/Herring1949

Goldstine, H. H., & Goldstine, A. (1946). The electronic numerical integrator and computer (eniac). Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation, 2(15), 97-110. – https://ve42.co/ENIAC

Shannon, C. E. (1938). An emblematic evaluation of relay and switching circuits. Electrical Engineering, 57(12), 713-723. – https://ve42.co/Shannon38

Boole, G. (1847). The mathematical assessment of common sense. Philosophical Library. – https://ve42.co/Boole1847

The world’s first general intention computer turns 75 – https://ve42.co/ENIAC2

Dylla, H. F., & Corneliussen, S. T. (2005). John Ambrose Fleming and the start of electronics. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films, 23(4), 1244-1251. – https://ve42.co/Dylla2005

Stibitz, G. R. (1980). Early computers. In A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century (pp. 479-483). Academic Press.

ENIAC’s Hydrogen Bomb Calculations – https://ve42.co/ENIAC3

Special thanks to our Patreon proponents:
Emil Abu Milad, Tj Steyn, meg noah, Bernard McGee, KeyWestr, Amadeo Bee, TTST, Balkrishna Heroor, John H. Austin, Jr., john kiehl, Anton Ragin, Benedikt Heinen, Diffbot, Gnare, Dave Kircher, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Josh Hibschman, Mac Malkawi, Juan Benet, Ubiquity Ventures, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Stephen Wilcox, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Michael Krugman, Cy ‘kkm’ K’Nelson, Sam Lutfi.

Written by Petr Lebedev, Derek Muller and Kovi Rose
Edited by Trenton Oliver
Animated by Mike Radjabov, Ivy Tello and Fabio Albertelli
Filmed by Derek Muller & Raquel Nuno
Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images & Pond5
Music from Epidemic Sound
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, & Emily Zhang
Thumbnail by Ignat Berbeci


  1. i learned electronics from a army training manual from the early 50s that was all tube theory built my first 1 tube radio at 10 years old later in the army i learned lots more did testing in Vietnam still have fun at 75 years old building and upgrading my computers

  2. The real keys to joy are contentment, humility, servanthood, and gratitude. These are all things you can choose.


  4. Nah the greatest human invention was religion, thousands of years later and it’s still successfully brainwashing and controlling entire populations just like they intended

  5. Devil's Advocate

    actually nothing is better than sliced bread!

  6. The next video will be about my fellow Egyptian Mohamed Atalla and his invention with Dawon Kahng of the MOSFET. I think they deserved a Nobel Prize in physics for this (although I am not sure about the novelty of their idea)

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