Amazingly, the answer lies not in the complex and inscrutable interplay of economic forces but rather in a bona fide dark conspiracy: the Phoebus Cartel. The Cartel fixed global light bulb prices and placed strict production quotas on its members, imposing steep fines on any who exceeded their assigned cap. Though it lasted barely 15 years, the Phoebus Cartel cast a long shadow over the 20th Century. Edison did, however, develop the first commercially-viable light bulb, which first went on sale in 1880. By the early 1920s when the Phoebus Cartel was formed, light bulbs produced nearly five times as much light as Edison’s first bulbs and lasted more than twice as long.