We once not long ago in history spent 10 hours daily, on average, getting the fuel to keep our shelters warm, cook, and lit.

As we learned we went from poverity burning toxic candles to beeswax.

The wealthiest could afford beeswax, but most people – even the Harvard president – used tallow candles, stinking, smoking sticks of animal fat. 

Making them involved heating up animal fat and dipping and re-dipping wicks into the molten lard. 

It was pungent and time-consuming work. 

A tallow chandler dips a frame of candles into a bath of liquid fatImage copyrightWORLD HISTORY ARCHIVE / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Image captionA tallow chandler dips a frame of candles into a bath of liquid fat

According to Prof Nordhaus’s research, if you set aside one whole week a year to spend 60 hours devoted exclusively to making candles – or earning the money to buy them – that would enable you to burn a single candle for just two hours and 20 minutes every evening. 

Things improved a little as the 18th and 19th Centuries unfolded. A snap in time ago. 

Candles were made of spermaceti – the milk-hued oily gloop harvested from dead sperm whales. 

American founding father Ben Franklin loved the strong, white light they gave off, and the way they “may be held in the hand, even in hot weather, without softening”, and noted that they “last much longer”. 

Great leap forward

While the new candles were pleasing, they were also pricey. 

George Washington calculated that burning a single spermaceti candle for five hours a night all year would cost him £8, or well over $1,000 (£820) in today’s money. 

A few decades later, gas lamps and kerosene lamps helped to lower costs. Enter Rockefeller wealth creation from oil as an industry that before was a waste product.

They also saved the sperm whale from extinction. 

But they, too, were basically an expensive hassle. 

They dripped, smelt and set fire to things. 

Thomas Edison holding his light bulb in the 1920sImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThomas Edison’s carbon filament light bulbs represented an enormous technological leap forward

Then something changed. 

That something was the light bulb. 

By 1900, one of Thomas Edison’s carbon filament bulbs would provide you with 10 days of bright, continuous illumination, 100 times as bright as a candle, for the money you could earn with our 60-hour week of hard labor. 

By 1920, that same week of labor would pay for more than five months’ continuous light from tungsten filament bulbs. 

By 1990, it was 10 years. 

A couple of years after that, thanks to compact fluorescent bulbs, it was more than five times longer. 

Icon of innovation

The human  labour that had once produced the equivalent of 54 minutes of quality light now produced 52 years. 

And modern LED lights continue to get cheaper and cheaper. 

Switch off a light bulb for an hour and you are saving illumination that would have cost our ancestors all week to create. 

It would have taken Benjamin Franklin’s contemporaries all afternoon. 

But someone in a rich industrial economy today could earn the money to buy that illumination in a fraction of a second. 

An LEDImage copyrightISTOCK
Image captionLED bulbs offer sharper, cheaper and more energy efficient illumination

And of course, unlike oil lamps and candles, modern light bulbs are clean, fire-safe and controllable.

The light bulb has become an icon of innovation. 

It has transformed our society into one where we can work, read, sew or play whenever we want to, regardless of how dark the night has become. 

But the price of light alone tells a fascinating story: it has fallen by a factor of 500,000, far faster than official inflation statistics suggest. 

A thing that was once too precious to use is now too cheap to notice.

Technology IS changing economics. Technology is changing “US” in ways no one can even predict ( read the CYBER EFFECT to study this reality ).  Soon with AI AS A NEW LIFE FORM MORE INTELLIGENT THAT HUMANS – HUMAN’S may recreate as creators, artists, and inventors while labor is no longer performed by human beings at all. The result would be a new age of education for humans that is life long, with longevity only a SNAP away today, where every human is paid monthly and circulates that economy back, in a new cooperative capitalism evolving beside technology.

Technology is changing humanity. The outcome remains unknown and beyond prediction. 

We best get prepared to prosper in the new age of SUPER CHANGE. We live within this new age. We either stay current and thrive or we do not. Said another way we either cooperate together or we perish.

Berny Dohrmann – Author of Prospering in the new AGE OF SUPER CHANGE