It can be said that neon signs were invented in 1898, when two British chemists working in London, England by the names William Ramsay (1852 – 1916) and Morris W. Travers (1872-1961) first discovered the noble gas neon. Their process was simple. By chilling a sample of the atmosphere to the liquid point Ramsay was then able to boil the very air we breath and collect the gasses which boiled off which included neon, amongst others.
In 1904, Scottish born Ramsay received the Nobel prize in Chemistry for his work on Nobel gasses. Travers, who’s father was also a well known scientist, was born in England and went on to found the Indian Institute of Science. It wasn’t until December of 1910 that a French engineer named George Claude created the first neon lamp by injecting the gas into an electrified glass tube. Claude’s work was based on the earlier Geissler Tube, or Crooke’s Tube, which was used to demonstrate how electrical discharge functioned.
Commercial production began in 1915 with a Packard car dealership being Claude’s first customer, although a Paris barber acquired a prototype sign in 1912. Since then, neon signs have advanced, drawing the interest of artists and advertisers alike. The extraordinary success of neon signs in outdoor advertising stems from their ability to be seen even during the day. By bending and shaping the tubes, neon lighting offers, much like led lights, advertisers a flexible media to create eye-catching signs.
Some cities have capitalised on …