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History of Lighting

Oil Lamps

The oil lamp is one of the oldest inventions of mankind, dating between 12,000 and 15,000 BC, used for illuminating caves. Later on oil lamps were used for home illumination, as well as various rituals and ceremonies. In ancient Egypt, in honor of the Goddess Naïf, ceremonies were held and the Ancient Egyptians lit thousands of oil lamps in their homes and all around the country. In Greece there is a record of a very famous and large lamp called Callimachus which was lit daily with only one refill of oil per year. This lamp was kept in the Acropolis in Athens.

The central burner was invented in the 18th century, and was a major improvement on the original lamp design. Metal was used to tightly enclose the fuel source. To control the intensity of fuel burning and intensity of light, metal tubes were used. To protect and to control the flow of air to the flame, glass chimneys were added to the lamps. These glass chimneys were small in size so they could easily be added to the lamps.

In 1783 a Physicist named Ami Argand developed the principle of using an oil lamp with a circular wick which was surrounded by a glass chimney.

Lighting Fuels

Olive oil, nut oil, sesame oil, bees wax, whale oil, fish oil and similar oils were all used as lighting fuels in earky recorded history, and were the most common fuel types till the end of the 18th century. After asbout 1859, natural gas was collected by the ancient Chinese using skins.

Kerosene became popular drilling started for petroleum oil, which began in Germany in 1863. In 1784, coal gas was introdced as a lighting fuel.

Lighting Fuels

Gas Lights

In the 1790s, William Murdoch started experiments on gas lighting in Cornwall, England., working with Mathew Boulton and James Watt. Shortly thereafter the first commercial use of gas lighting began when in 1798, gas light was used for for lighting the building of the Soho Foundry. Upon seeing this achievement, Samuel Clegg left the Soho Foundry and started his own business in gas lighting. This was the first gas lighting company in the world, and in fact he was eventually granted with a Honor from the Parliament of London in 1812. The huge task of lighting the London streets with gas lights began in 1807.

Electric Lamps

Most people think that Thomas Edison discovered electric lighting, but this concept is in fact wrong. In 1802, an English Chemist named Humphrey Davy demonstrated the first electric lamp, which was called a Carbon-Arc Lamp. It was not until 1879 that Thomas Edison and Joseph Wilson Swan invented a carbon filament that burned for forty hours, which was placed in an oxygenless bulb - which is the basis of all modern light bulbs.

First Electric Lamp

Street Lamps

The first street lamp is known as the Carbon Arc Street Lamp. It was invented by Charles F. Brush in the United States in 1879.

Street Lamps

Vapor Lamps and Fluorescent Lamps

The first vapor lamp was the low prssure mercury arc lamp, which was invented by the American Scientist Peter Cooper Hewitt in 1901. This was a low pressure mercury arc lamp.

In 1927 the German Edmund Germer invented the high pressure fluorescent lamp, providing better illumination with reduced heat. In 1857 the French Physicist Alexandre E. Becquerel investigated the phenomena of fluorescence lighting by coating electric tubes with luminescent materials. This idea became the basis of fluorescent lights of the modern era.

The first true fluorescent lamp was invented by the team of Friedrich Meyer, Hans Spanner and Edmund Germer, led by George Inman, in 1927. The team's mission was to improve the technology of fluorescent lamps. After a competition with different lighting companies, this team designed a fluorescent lamp which was much more effective than previous inventions. This lamp was sold in 1938 for the first time and was the first commercial use of any kind of fluorescent lamp.

Thomas Edison also invented a fluorescent lamp 1896 based around X-rays, in which Mercury vapor was used to excite Phosphor. This lamp was never used commercially.

Vapor Lamps and Fluorescent Lamps

Halogen Lights

In 1959 Elmer Friedrich and Emmett Wiley invented the first Halogen Light, which was a significant improvement over incandescent lamps. In 1960, am even better Halogen lamp was invented by Fredrick Moby. This halogen lamp could fit into any kind of socket. In the 1970s tungsten halogen lamps were being manufactured.

Halogen Lights