The History Of Neon

A little bit of history for those who are interested in the origins of this fantastic form of light.
Back in the 1800s and early 1900s three people were the pioneers of what would come to be a Neon Light , the first one was mr. Heinrich Geissler ,who invented the Geissler Tube;Heinrich Geissler

Geissler tube is an early gas discharge tube used to demonstrate the principles of electrical glow discharge. The tube was invented by the German physicist and glassblower Heinrich Geissler in 1857. It consists of a sealed, partially evacuated glass cylinder of various shapes with a metal electrode at each end, containing rarefied gasses such as neonargon, or air; mercury vapor or other conductive fluids; or ionizable minerals or metals, such as sodium. When a high voltage is applied between the electrodes, an electrical current flows through the tube. The current dissociates electrons from the gas molecules, creating ions, and when the electrons recombine with the ions, the gas emits light. The color of light emitted is characteristic of the material within the tube, and is composed of one or more narrow spectral lines. Many different colors and lighting effects can be achieved. In the early 20th century, Geissler tube technology was commercialized and evolved into neon lighting.

Geissler tubes 1862
Geissler tubes were mass produced from the 1880s as entertainment devices, with various spherical chambers and decorative serpentine paths formed into the glass tube. When the tube was handled (the terminals were insulated) the shape of the plasma changed. Some tubes were very elaborate and complex in shape and would contain chambers within an outer casing. If these were spun at high speed a visual disk of color was seen due to the persistence of vision. (Somewhat similar devices in the form of stationary globes are now produced and sold for personal amusement.) As an educational tool, they are also used to demonstrate the movement of electrons and the principles of a vacuum.

Georges_Claude_1926The second one was Georges Claude (September 24, 1870 – May 23, 1960) was a French engineer and inventor. He is noted for his early work on the industrial liquefaction of air, for the invention and commercialization of neon lighting, and for a large experiment on generating energy by pumping cold seawater up from the depths. Considered by some to be “the Edison of France”, regrettably he made some bad decisions and was very friendly with the nNazisthe German occupiers of France during the Second World War, for which he was imprisoned in 1945 and stripped of his honors.

Inspired by Geissler tubes and by Daniel McFarlan Moore‘s invention of a nitrogen-based light (the “Moore tube”), Claude developed neon tube lighting to exploit the neon that was produced as a byproduct of his air liquefaction business. These were all “glow discharge” tubes that generate light when an electrical current is passed through the rarefied gas within the tube. Claude’s first public demonstration of a large neon light was at the Paris Motor Show (Salon de l’Automobile et du Cycle), December 3–18, 1910.Claude’s first patent filing for his technologies in France was on March 7, 1910.Claude himself wrote in 1913 that, in addition to a source of neon gas, there were two principal inventions that made neon lighting practicable. First were his methods for purifying the neon (or other inert gases such as argon). Claude developed techniques for purifying the inert gases within a completely sealed glass tube, which distinguished neon tube lighting from the Moore tubes; the latter had a device for replenishing the nitrogen or carbon dioxide gases within the tube. The second invention was ultimately crucial for the development of the Claude lighting business; it was a design for minimizing the degradation (by “sputtering”) of the electrodes that transfer electrical current from the external power supply to the glowing gases within the sign.

The terms “neon light” and “neon sign” are now often applied to electrical lighting incorporating sealed glass tubes filled with argon, mercury vapor, or other gases instead of neon. In 1915 a U.S. patent was issued to Claude covering the design of the electrodes for neon lights; this patent became the strongest basis for the monopoly held in the U.S. by his company, Claude Neon Lights, through the early 1930s.

Packard neon SignIn 1923, Georges Claude and his French company Claude Neon, introduced neon gas signs to the United States, by selling two to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles. Earle C. Anthony purchased the two signs reading “Packard” for $1,250 apiece. Neon lighting quickly became a popular fixture in outdoor advertising. Visible even in daylight, people would stop and stare at the first neon signs for hours, dubbed “liquid fire.”

Earl C. Anthony by the way also owned several radio stations and tv stations, among the radio stations was KFI 640 am which is still heard in southern California as ” Most Stimulating Talk Radio”