One of Fleming's first thermionic diode valves, 1889

1889 in London
John Ambrose Fleming
John Ambrose Fleming

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Three original thermionic valves invented by Sir John Ambrose Fleming, Edison and Swan United Electric Light Company,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Thermionic valve, one of three original examples, by Sir John Ambrose Fleming, London, England, 1904. This valve uses a lamp with a flat rectangular aluminium filament, by Edison & Swan United Electric Company, London, England, 1889.

Original thermionic diode valve invented by Sir John Ambrose Fleming, made by the Edison & Swan United Electric Light Company, London, England, 1889.

This is one of the original valves used by Sir John Ambrose Fleming in his research during 1889 into the 'Edison Effect' - where an extra electrode connected to the positive end of the filament inside a carbon filament light bulb would create a small but measurable charge. After being stored in a cupboard for several years, the valves were once again put to use in 1904 during some experiments by Fleming, resulting in the invention of the two-electrode valve. A few years later American engineer Lee de Forest improved on Fleming’s valve to invent the audion, or triode, which could amplify as well as detect signals. A long and painful legal battle over patent rights for the thermionic valve followed between Fleming and de Forest.

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Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

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Electronic Components
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aluminium?, brass, glass, metal, rubber?, steel, textile and wood
thermionic emission
Sir John Ambrose Fleming

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