With our current sale being on neon lights, it seemed fitting to do an edition of Tales of a Trendsetter on Georges Claude, the French industrial chemist who invented the neon light sign. So read on if you want to learn more about neon (rhyme intended).
Claude was born in September 24, 1870 (Happy belated/posthumous Birthday!) and studied at the elite ESPCI ParisTech (The City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institute). In 1902, he co founded L'Air Liquide S.A. (Air Liquide), now a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation. The company’s original premise was to liquefy air to produce oxygen on a large scale. This process resulted in several left-over elements, including several inert gasses such as neon. Realizing that neon gas would glow red when exposed to electrical current, Claude just needed to figure out a useful application.
Claude displayed his first neon sign to the public at a Paris convention in 1910. He sold the first commercial neon sign in 1912 to a Paris barber, and patented the neon lighting tube in 1915. In 1923, Claude introduced the signs to the United States, first selling two to a L.A. car dealership for $1,250 each. Observers would begin calling neon signs “liquid fire”, and in the 20s, it would not be uncommon to see pedestrians stop and stare at the lights for long periods of time. The neon signs became an immensely popular form of outdoor advertising and would spread through the nation's metropolitan areas like wildfire. The rest is history.
Some neon sign facts:
- Today, “neon tubes” actually refer to all positive-column discharge lamps, regardless of the gas filling.
- The colors in order of discovery were blue (Mercury), white (Co2), gold (Helium), red (Neon), and then different colors from phosphor-coated tubes.
- Neon signs always consist of one continuous tube. The trick of the eye neon plays is produced by blocking out parts of the tube with blockout paint.
Props to following sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_sign http://inventors.about.com/od/qstartinventions/a/neon.htm http://www.ehow.com/about_5043120_history-neon-lighting.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Claude http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/324.html