The quote is the old Chinese proverb of Confucius. It has many meanings to many people, but in this case let’s take it literally. When you are in darkness you tend to want to turn on a light. I have discussed in the column the kinds of emergencies and disasters when the power goes out and you need an alternate source of light.
Back before electricity was harnessed to make artificial light the candle or oil lamp sufficed to provide a light source. Today, we tend to use candles more for atmosphere rather than a major light source. What do we depend on when the lights suddenly go out? Why, of course, a flashlight. Did you ever wonder who came up with the idea and just when? I have so here is what I found out when I researched the simple light source that we all take for granted today.
A Sumerian pot was found sealed with pitch with an iron rod protruding from the center surrounded by a copper tube. It is thought that an acid liquid such as vinegar was put in the jar and with a series of jars connected the result would be enough electricity to electroplate gold onto silver artifacts. According to about batteries.com “A German archeologist, Dr. Wilhelm Konig, identified the clay pot as a possible battery in 1938. While its 2,000-year old date would make it the first documented battery invention,there may have been earlier technology at work.”
The first dry cell battery was invented in 1896 and according to the historyoflighting.net “In 1899, English inventor David Misell invented the first flashlight. It had three D batteries placed in a tube that acted as a handle of the device.
Batteries powered a small incandescent electric light bulb and a simple contact switch turned the light on and off.” In 1888 a Russian immigrant and inventor named Conrad Hubert established the American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company which became known as Ever Ready and later, in 1906, the product became known as “Eveready.”
From the history of lighting.com “By 1922 there were several different designs of flashlights. There was classic cylindrical variant, a lantern-shaped version that could be left to stand, reflector type for lighting a greater area and a small pocket variant. Different varieties and usefulness were reasons of the high demand, which resulted in 10 million flashlight users by the same time.”
There really isn’t much difference between the batteries of the 1920s and todays batteries. The design pretty much stayed the same. The major changes were much more powerful and smaller batteries that are longer-lasting and brighter bulbs. In 1999 LED light bulbs (light emitting diodes) were developed to work in flashlights. They were first introduced by a company called” Lumides” from San Jose, California. Their Luxeon LED bulb was brighter, smaller, and more efficient than either incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.There are even flashlights on the market now that are advertised as being used by the military which means they’re tougher than the regular flashlights and are practically indestructible. The latest innovation is Halogen light bulbs which are, according to their manufacturers, the brightest bulbs made today.
You have to admit that we’ve come a long way from the “Wee Willy Winkie” walking through the darkness carrying a single lighted candle.
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