In 1874, at the age of 18, Lane Fox took out his first patent for an electric cooking utensil. By 1878 his interests had focused on developing an incandescent electric light. His first two lamps were failures. By 1880, as his letter describes he was having greater success. His carbonised fibre was French grass treated with hydrocarbon vapour and then carbonised.
Like Edison, who at this stage had developed a working carbon filament lamp, Lane Fox realised that the lamp was only the first step. In 1881 the Paris Electrical Exhibition provided a showcase for manufacturers of the new incandescent lamp and Lane Fox, along with Thomas Edison, Joseph Wilson Swan and Hiram Maxim (later the inventor of the Maxim gun) demonstrated their systems.
An independent panel analysed their results and concluded that Lane Fox's system was slightly less efficient than those of Edison or Swan. Nevertheless, he planned an electrical distribution system using parallel loads and earth return and he devised meters to measure the electricity used by consumers.
Shortly thereafter he sold his patents to the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation, but by 1891, regained them to set up his own distribution company. However, it never became a major supplier.