Inventors of Fluorescent Lamp to 2018

1856Heinrich Geissler was the first to extensively study the arc tube. His Geissler tube was the foundations for all arc discharge lamps including HID lamps
Bonn, Germany

1859Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel first used phosphors on the inside of a glass discharge tube. He was the first to use a phosphor coating but it was 30 years later before others really put the phosphor coating idea back into the spotlight. 70 years later the first phosphor coatings were developed with a acceptable color and commercialized.
Paris, France

1891Nikola Tesla created an induction lamp. This lamp had greenish unpleasant phosphors. It was not really a “fluorescent lamp” as we know today because it did not have electrodes. His high frequency ballast was a predecessor to modern high frequency ballasts used in modern fluorescent ballasts.
New York City, New York

1896Thomas Edison made a light that used a calcium tungstate phosphor coating. The phosphors were excited by x-rays in a glass tube. The lamp had very short life and unpleasant color. Clarence Dally helped Edison build the lamp, but died after exposure to radiation. Edison developed a healthy fear of x-rays after his death and abandon the project.
West Orange, New Jersey

1895Daniel McFarlan Moore achieved success developing the first predecessor to the fluorescent light called the Moore Tube. The tube looked very much like today’s light except that it was longer and used CO2 and Nitrogen to make a pink and white light. His lights were reliable and sold to department stores in the New York City area. The lamp was short lived in that it was expensive to replace and the Mercury Vapor lamp was competition.
East Orange, New Jersey

1901Peter Cooper Hewitt developed the first commercial mercury vapor lamp. An electric arc through mercury vapor is the basis for the modern fluorescent lamp. It would be another 20 years before mercury vapor was experimented with in the fluorescent lamp. Hewitt’s work with electrodes and ballasts formed a basis from which fluorescent lamps operate.
New York, New York

1911William D. Coolidge developed ductile tungsten wire which revolutionized the incandescent light bulb. The material also happened to be perfect for all arc discharge lamps and vacuum tubes and x-ray tubes. Tungsten has one of the highest melting points of any metal which made it a robust material for making electrodes in fluorescent lamps later on.
Schenectady, New York

1915Georges Claude invented the modern neon lamp. This lamp is actually a simple type of fluorescent lamp. It uses neon and argon gas and has two electrodes in a tube. Original neon lamps did not use a phosphor. It is considered a cold cathode fluorescent lamp.
Paris, France

1926Edmund Germer came very close to developing the modern fluorescent lamp. His lamp used UV rays from mercury vapor. It glowed a greenish color due to his phosphors, but had a short life. The hostile conditions in the arc tube corroded the electrodes and destroyed the lamp. If more attention had been paid to his work and more funds invested, he might have finished developing the lamp. The ugly green color did not help him persuade investors.
Berlin, Germany

1927Albert W. Hull had contributed much in the field of vacuum tubes, he was able to build of the work of Moore whose patents were bought by General Electric. Hull was able to develop a stronger UV emission from the tube. Most importantly he developed a way to make electrodes that would not disintegrate. He set the stage for the final advancements 6 years later.
Schenectady, New York

1934George Inman along with Richard Thayer, Eugene Lemmers, and Willard A. Roberts develop the first true fluorescent lamp. Their lamp has real white phosphors, is stable, reliable, and their design has not changed much in 78 years.

Nela Park (GE), Cleveland, Ohio

1934Richard Thayer worked with George Inman on the first modern fluorescent lamp. 

Nela Park (GE), Cleveland, Ohio


1934Clifton G. Found and Willard Roberts w C.A. Nickel and G.R. Fonda(Schenectady) all work on better phosphors for more light output with better white colors. They discover the use of zinc-beryllium silicate and magnesium tungstate.

Schenectady, New York / Nela Park, Cleveland, Ohio

1976Edward E. Hammer develops the CFL or compact fluorescent lamp at Nela Park. He did not patent the lamp early on and GE though it would be too expensive to manufacture. Later on the spiral tube design spread and became the lamp we know today. Hammer works under original light creator Richard Thayer. In addition to this Ed Hammer also developed more efficient straight tube lamps starting with the F-40 Watt Miser.

Nela Park, Cleveland, Ohio

1984John M. Anderson developed many improvements in the fluorescent lamp: short arc fluorescent lamp, fluorescent lamp without ballast, improved electrodes and fluorescent lamp dimming technology. Anderson was a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and employee of General Electric with 27 patents 1970 – 1992 related to lamp technology. Read more on Anderson’s work.
Schenectady, New York


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