Russian Light by Pavel Yablochkov
Pavel Yablochkov was a Russian electrician, military engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. He is best known for the invention of the Yablochkov candle, a type of electric carbon arc lamp. His inventions have made a great contribution to the development of electrical engineering in the world.
Pavel was born on September 14, 1847 in the Serdobsky district of the Saratov province. In his youth the boy became interested in physics. After graduating from Nikolaev Engineering College in 1866 Yablochkov became a military engineer. Parents wanted him to be an officer, but Pavel didn’t want to be a military man. He became a chief of the telegraph at the Moscow-Kursk railway. His first invention was a writing telegraph. Unfortunately, the details of the invention did not reach us.
Pavel Nikolaevich was a member of the inventors club at the Moscow Polytechnic Museum. Here he learned about street lighting and indoor electric lamps, and then decided to improve existing arc lamps. He began with an attempt to improve the most common Foucault regulator. In the spring of 1874 Pavel Nikolaevich had the opportunity to apply the electric arc lighting. There was a government train following from Moscow to the Crimea. Administration of the Moscow-Kursk road decided to highlight a railway track at night and asked Yablochkov to do this.
In 1874, Pavel opened a studio of physical devices in Moscow. He worked together with experienced electrician Gluhov.
In October 1875, Yablochkov went to the United States to show his inventions and achievements of Russian electrical engineering at the World Exhibition in Philadelphia. In 1875 Pavel came to Paris, where he achieved outstanding success.
In early spring of 1876 he completed the design of the electric candles. It was the turning point in the history of electricity and lighting, Yablochkov’s finest hour. His candle was easier, more convenient and less expensive than Lodygin’s lamp; it had no mechanism or springs.
On April 15, 1876 in London Yablochkov demonstrated his invention at the exhibition of physical devices. The large audience was delighted. So London had become the place of the first public showing of the new light source.
In February 1877 fashionable shop Louvre was illuminated by electric light. Then Yablochkov candles appeared in front of the Opera House. Finally, in May 1877, they lit up one of the most beautiful roads of the capital – Avenue de l’Opera.
On June 17, 1877 Yablochkov candles appeared in London: West India Docks, the Thames Embankment, Waterloo Bridge, the hotel Metropol, castles, and sea beaches were illuminated.
Soon innovation appeared in Berlin, Belgium and Spain, Portugal and Sweden. In Italy, Yablochkov candles lit up ruins of the Colosseum, in Rome – the National Street and Colon Square, as well as streets and squares, ports and shops, theaters and palaces in other countries. Even the Shah of Persia and the King of Cambodia illuminated their palaces with “Russian light”.
Yablochkov candle became widespread. It was a true triumph of the Russian engineer.
Pavel Nikolaevich also constructed the first alternator, he was the first who used alternating current for industrial purposes, created AC transformer, an electromagnet with a flat coil and used capacitors in AC circuits.
On April 21, 1876 Yablochkov was elected a full member of the French Physical Society.
In 1877, the Russian naval officer Khotinsky was in America, visited Edison’s lab and gave him Lodygin’s bulb and Yablochkov candle. Edison had made some improvements, and in November 1879 received a patent for the inventions as they were his own. Yablochkov said that Thomas Edison stole Russian thoughts and ideas, as well as their inventions.
In 1878, Pavel decided to return to Russia and his candles appeared in his homeland. Later he moved to Paris again.
In 1881, Yablochkov participated in the First International Congress of Electricians held in Paris and was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
In December 1892 Pavel finally returned to his homeland. He brought all of his foreign patents.
Pavel Yablochkov was the man who gave light to the world. But his invention didn’t make him rich. Yablochkov died in poverty on March 19, 1894 in Saratov.
Lyubov Nikitina was his first wife. They had four children.
Maria Albova became his second wife and gave birth to a son named Platon.