• The Evolution of Lighting
    22nd July 2023

    The Evolution of Lighting

Lighting plays such an indispensable role in our lives today. But have you ever wondered what the sources of light were hundreds of centuries ago? If you turn to history, you’ll be astonished to know how sources of lighting evolved over the years.

In this article we travel back in time to reveal the interesting journey of how lighting technology improvised over the years to what we see and use today.

Fire: Millions of years ago when humans first discovered fire sparks by rubbing sticks together or striking stones, they tried to find more uses for it. In early civilizations, fire was the only source of heat and light, which was used for cooking or making tools. Apart from its basic use of light and warmth, it was used as a fire torch to protect them from wild animals at night.

Oil Lamps: Around 8000 – 10000 BC oil lamps were developed. Animal fats, vegetable oils or mineral oils were used as fuel and wicks made of plant fibre were soaked and lit. Oil lamps provided a relatively steady and controlled source of light thousands of years ago.

Candles: Candles were used by Egyptian civilizations around 3000 BC but the Ancient Romans were credited with developing the wicked candle before that time. Made from beeswax, candles provided a convenient and portable lighting option. Beeswax candles were widely used for ceremonies and became popular with Western descent.

Gas Lamps: In the early 1790s William Murdoch began experimenting and discovered coal /natural gas as the most effective burning source. When gas lamps were rolled out in the 18th century, they were widely used in the 19th century to brightly illuminate streets, homes and public buildings.

Halogen Lamps: Elmer Fridrich and Emmet Wiley developed the halogen lamp at General Electric in Nela Park, Ohio in 1955. At the center of the lamp is a tungsten filament. Halogen gas such as iodine or bromine reacts with tungsten atoms to form tungsten bromide, which generates brightness in proportion to the heat inside. Due to a lot of heat generation this invention did not sustain for a long time.

Incandescent Bulbs: In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. It consisted of a filament inside a glass bulb, which when heated creates an electric current to radiate light. Incandescent bulbs revolutionized lighting by providing a more efficient source of light than previous technologies.

Fluorescent Lighting: Fluorescent lighting was developed in the early 19th century. It involved passing an electric current through a tube filled with low-pressure mercury vapor to radiate ultraviolet light. Upon striking the phosphor coating inside the tube, it emits visible light. This promising invention offered longer lasting lighting compared to incandescent bulbs.

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs): The technology of LEDs (Light-Emitting Diode) revolutionized lighting we use today. Gradual advancements in LED rolled out energy-efficient and versatile lighting systems. LEDs emit light when an electric current passes through a semiconductor material, producing minimal heat and significantly using less energy than incandescent or fluorescent lamps. The benefits of long lifespan, low heat, varied colour ranges and intensity of brightness made LEDs a reliable and preferred lighting option.

Smart Lighting: With the rise of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, smart lighting systems came into play. These systems allow users to control their lights remotely using smartphones or voice commands. Equipped with features of dimming, color control, voice control, scheduling, automation and integration with other smart home devices, they made lighting more convenient and energy efficient.

I hope this rundown of inventions in the lighting field has left you intrigued. As ongoing research continues to push the boundaries of lighting technology, we can expect better and smarter lighting systems in the future.

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