In 1882, an inventive New Yorker finds a brilliant application for electric lights and becomes the first person to use them as Christmas tree decorations.
Edward H. Johnson, who toiled for Thomas Edison’s Illumination Company and later became a company vice president, used 80 small red, white and blue electric bulbs, strung together along a single power cord, to light the Christmas tree in his New York home. Some sources credit Edison himself with being the first to use electric lights as Christmas decorations, when he strung them around his laboratory in 1880.
Sticking them on the tree was Johnson’s idea, though. It was a mere three years after Edison had demonstrated that light bulbs were practical at all.
The idea of replacing the Christmas tree’s traditional wax candles — which had been around since the mid-17th century — with electric lights didn’t, umm, catch fire right away. Although the stringed lights enjoyed a vogue with the wealthy and were being mass-produced as early as 1890, they didn’t become popular in humbler homes until a couple of decades into the 20th century.
You can read more at http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2009/12/1222johnson-creates-christmas-lights.