During 1879 Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory developed the means to evacuate glass lamp globes to less than a mTorr in 20 min and in mid-1880 began production of carbon-filament incandescent lamps. Among Edison’s nearly 1100 U.S. patents are five for vacuum pump improvements, and at least eight others that are vacuum-related; all applied for between 1880 and 1886. Inspired by an 1878 article by De La Rue and Müller [Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 169, 155 (1878)] on studies of glow discharges, Edison devised a combination pump using the Geissler pump as a rough pump and the Sprengel pump for continuous exhaustion. Edison’s patents described means to control the mercury flow and automate the delivery of the mercury to banks of up to a hundred pumps. Other patents described various means to remove residual gases during lamp processing.

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