Thomas Edison applied on November 4, 1879 to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a patent on his "Electric-Lamp." Patent number 223898 A was awarded on January 27, 1880. Remember those years.
While searching for technical headlines today, I ran across an article in the New York Times where they point out the first-ever mention of electric lights in their newspaper. Per the article "The Arrival of Electric Light,"
"Since the early 19th century, inventors had been tinkering with various methods of using electricity to produce light. The New York Times first wrote of the technology on April 15, 1858. That day, 'Our Own Correspondent' in Havana described celebrations of Holy Week that included 'an electric light' cast across the harbor 'revealing the name of Queen Isabel.'"
Using my subscription to Newspapers.com, I found that edition of The New York Times and captured the entire story here (click on taller thumbnail).
1858 was a full 21 years prior to Edison and his "muckers" having come up with the highly successful carbonized cotton thread filament.
Also mentioned is "The first full description of a light bulb appeared on Oct. 30, 1878. 'An interesting exhibition of a new electric light ...,'" and "The Times first mentioned Thomas Edison's light bulb the same day, on page 4:: 'The result of Mr. Edison's experiments with the electric light, which he is confident of being able to divide and distribute in such a way as to make it available for all the ordinary purposes of illumination, is awaited with great interest.'"
According to Wikipedia, the carbon arc lamp first appeared in the early part of the 19th century, so that or some derivative of it might be what was observed by the article's author.
Posted January 11, 2016