While Thomas Edison’s 1879 lightbulb represented an epochal advance, it remained far from perfect: its carbonized cellulose filament gulped power. In 1905 managers at General Electric’s pioneering research laboratory in Schenectady, New York, decided to figure out a way to improve filament performance. They hired 32-year-old William Coolidge, a research assistant to Arthur Noyes at MIT’s Department of Chemistry.
Mulholland Drive is one of the best-known addresses in the Los Angeles area. It follows the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains, northwest of the city. Movie stars live there, and their homes command sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles itself. Yet the drive’s namesake, William Mulholland, was neither a Hollywood mogul nor a wealthy landowner. He was the city’s water superintendent from 1886 to 1928.