History of Fluorescent Lighting

By: Tom Sanderrs


Fluorescent light technology is not new and has been around for over a 150 years. It is the result of hard work and time invested by scientists and inventors. The history is interesting and if you want to know about it, then read on.
Starting in the 19th Century
The earliest fluorescent lights were first invented in 1856 by Heinrich Geissler. He had found that gas-filled tubes were able to produce some luminance when they're stimulated by electricity. It's amusing to know that he had not intended to discover this. Nevertheless, his inventions became an important part to the future development of fluorescent technology. As the end of the 19th century drew close, many scientists experimented with Geissler's findings and adapted them to their own work. One of these was the late great Thomas Edison and he expanded upon Geissler's work (and other scientists) and created the first long-lasting light bulb that we know today.
Beginning of the 20th Century
In 1901 the first success in fluorescent lighting took place and it was invented by Peter Cooper Hewitt who designed a bulb that had mercury sealed inside a tube. The ends of the tube were then supplied with electricity and that excited the low-pressure mercury. The result was UV light and the idea never took off at the time, because people didn't like the strange light. In 1926 Edmund Germer was able to improve that technology and as a result the fluorescent light was stabilized somewhat and fine changes enabled a more pleasantly colored light to be emitted. This resulted in immediate success for the fluorescent light bulb.
Mid 20th Century
Shortly before the start of the Second World War, GE purchased the fluorescent light patent from Germer. The bulb was then promoted around the world and was even displayed at the World's Fair in 1939. However, fluorescent lighting only started replacing incandescent lighting after conserving energy became a priority during the war. Since fluorescent lighting was more energy efficient and businesses started to use it, the demand for it increased.
Last-quarter 20th Century
At the end of World War II and up until the 1960s, the fluorescent bulb was widely used by businesses and organizations. They were a great alternative to incandescent bulbs at the time, but homeowners did not join this movement. This is because fluorescent lights just didn't fit in residential lighting fixtures. During the 1970s it was GE that came up with ways to make fluorescent lighting available for residential households. The company developed the CFL or Compact Fluorescent Lamp and that was the breakthrough of the fluorescent lamp into mainstream sales.
The Near Future
With the gradual rise of the Green Movement (which started in the mid 90s), fluorescent lighting has become a powerful option for many people who want to contribute to energy efficiency, and ultimately, environmental stability. With the more recent Green Economy proposal, spearheaded by US President Barack Obama, energy efficiency will certainly be at the top of the list of priorities and fluorescent technology will be among them.

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