Electric light, device using electric energy to produce visible light. Incandescent lamps have 3 basic parts: the filament, a wire through which electricity flows; the bulb, which protects the filament; and the base, which holds the lamp connecting it to an electric circuit. Gaseous-discharge lamps (fluorescent, neon, metal halide lamps) use pressurized gases instead of filaments. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs), used in computers and digital watches, and electroluminescent panels, used as night lights and on instrument panels, produce dim light directly from electric energy, and do not require a bulb, electric discharge, or filament. Thomas Edison developed the first incandescent light (1879).
See also: Edison, Thomas Alva.