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    When Were Neon Signs Invented? Who Invented Them?

    When Were Neon Signs Invented? Who Invented Them?

    In the signage industry, Neon signs are long luminous tubes of glass containing neon or other gases. Neon signs are an evolved form of a Geissler tube, gas discharge tubes.

    Invented by the German physicist Heinrich Geissler In 1857, consisting of a glass tube with electrodes at either end. These tubes contained rarified gasses such as Neon or Argon.

    When electricity was passed through the tube fluorescent light was emitted with a glow. Popular in the 19th century, Giessler tubes were, however unsuitable for general lighting use as typically the gas pressure in the tubes declined with use.

    (Click here if you would like to find out more about our neon signs).

    The Discovery Of Neon Gas

    The discovery of neon in 1898 by British scientists Morris W. Travers and William Ramsay included the observation of a brilliant red glow in Geissler tubes.

    Neon was discovered when Ramsay and W. Travers conducted experiments by chilling a sample of air until it became a liquid, then warmed the liquid and captured the gases as they boiled off.

    The characteristic brilliant red-orange, the crimson light color emitted by gaseous neon when excited electrically was noted immediately upon its discovery.

    Glass tubes containing Neon gas charged with a high voltage became the basis for neon lamps.

    (You may also like to take a look at this post about neon glow party ideas or this  one looking at neon versus led).

    The History Of Neon Signs

    Neon gas is very scarce in the Earth's atmosphere and this prevented the swift application of Neon gas for lighting along the lines of Moore tubes.

    Moore tubes were invented by Daniel McFarlan Moore, a US electrical engineer. Moore had devised his glow discharge lighting system by 1896. The Moore Lamp was an extension of the well-known Geissler tube.

    Using Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide as the luminous gasses, Moore's innovation compensated for the loss of gas in the lamp as per Geissler tubes.

    With Co2 giving good quality, white light, the first commercial installation of Moore lamps was in 1904 in a hardware store in Newark, New Jersey.

    Neon signs were later commercialized by Georges Claude. A French Engineer, inventor, and pioneer in the development of neon signs Georges Claude and his company Air Liquide produced industrial quantities of neon as a byproduct liquefying air in his air-liquefaction business.

    By 1910, Inventor Georges Claude demonstrated Neon Lighting by using a sealed tube of Neon. Georges Claude tried to sell these tubes for domestic lighting, but the market failed due to the intensity of the light not being suitable for domestic lighting.

    It was December 1910 when Georges Claude first revealed his lights at the Paris Motor Show, Claude's associate, Jacques Fonsèque, realized the possibilities for a business based on signage and advertising.

    In 1913 a sign for Cinzano Vermouth was set up in Paris, later in 1919 a Paris Opera sign in all of its Neon glory was installed lighting up the night sky.

    It was in 1923 when the French Engineer, Claude's company Claude Neon introduced the neon sign to businesses in the United States by selling two signs to a car dealership, the  Packard Motor Car Company in Los Angeles. 

    Earle C. Anthony bought the two signs, reading "Packard" for $1,250 each. The signs were set up at the downtown showroom of Earle C. Anthony.

    The red neon advertising sign was dubbed "Liquid Fire" as they could be seen during the daytime as well as the night.

    Even though the word Neon is used to denote the general type of neon lamp, but neon is only really used for the reddish tones of light.

    The greatest number of colors is actually available through the use of another inert gas in the tubes, Argon. The use of Argon with a drop of Mercury will result in blue, violet, yellow, green, and white neon signage.

    Neon signs that use an argon/mercury gas mixture emit a good deal of ultraviolet light 

    Final thought

    The experiments conducted by the two London-based scientists Travers and Ramsay led to the discovery of Neon.

    Although initially introduced to the US in Los Angeles, when thinking of Neon today many people think instantly of the Las Vegas strip where business owners employ the attention-grabbing characteristics of neon to attract custom.

    The bright colors in these fluorescent tubes giving off neon lighting are the result of years of development.

    From the initial experimentation with air in 1898, the work of the inventors, and to the first neon being used commercially at a car dealership in the United States, thanks to the French Engineer, Claude, neon has continued to develop.

    Nowadays, thanks to company's like Neon Mama, the signs have come on further. Using LEDs our neon lighting is simply like modern art pieces.

    Traditional gas and glass neon tube signage were very labor-intensive to make, with all the glass tubing being custom manufactured.

    There was also an element of being an art piece even from the days of the "Liquid Fire" signs installation.

    But what is achievable in terms of signage design, with the modern-day production techniques is simply on another level! In the United States, neon signs still dominate downtowns from New York to California, Las Vegas, and more.

    These neon tube signs are part of history but with the new neon technology used by Neon Mama your future is bright, your future is Neon!

    PS - You might lie to take a look at our collection of Japanese neon signs on this link or here if you want to find out more about custom made neon signs.