In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first practical lightbulb. The main problem he faced was in finding filament that would glow, but not burn out too quickly. To find it, he tried more than 6000 different substances that had some promise as filaments. The one he found was carbonized cotton, which worked far better than all the others (tungsten, which we use now, came much later).
Of course, the incandescent light changed the world. It replaced far more expensive gas lighting systems, and was much more versatile. The lightbulb captured the evening and nighttime hours for every kind of human activity.
Yet if the lightbulb had been an educational innovation, it probably would have been proclaimed a dismal failure.
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