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14th October 2011

The light bulb and its co-stars

The incandescent light bulb is perhaps the most paradigmatic item in the entire universe of electricity. In fact, it is so paradigmatic that its stylized shape is still used in comic books today to indicate that the character standing underneath it has had an idea that will change the course of history. And rotating around the light bulb there is an entire universe of products, components and devices which are used to turn it on.

Today, to be quite honest, the light bulb is losing a bit of its prestige. Certain incandescent light bulbs are no longer built as they are out of specification, and often other sources of lighting are used, such as the increasingly popular LEDs. However, it is difficult to imagine that stylized drawing of a LED will replace the incandescent light bulb in comic books, so we should salute it by providing a bit of information concerning its history.


A bit of history

The incandescent light bulb dates back to 1879. Edison, its inventor, managed to make the light bulb work for 45 hours in a row, producing two lumens per watt.

The tungsten filament was introduced in 1907. Another step forward in 1913, thanks to the introduction of an inert gas in the ampoules and spiralled filament. In these years, a luminous efficiency of 12 lumens per watt is achieved.

Halogen lamps were developed at the end of the 1950s, while the first high-voltage tubes for luminous signs date back from 1910. In 1935 came the first light bulbs with mercury vapours for road lighting applications, while 1936 was the year of fluorescent tube-shaped lamps. The first compact neon lamps with built-in type E27 traditional connection were introduced about thirty years ago.


The first unit of measure and Italy’s first public application

The unit of measure of luminous intensity (candle) was first defined way back in 1884.
Milan was the first city in Italy to use incandescent lamps for public lighting applications: in 1883, the Santa Radegonda power plant supplied energy for 1100 lamps located in the city’s historical downtown.

Electric light applications became more and more numerous. A document from 1900 says: “It seems to have become a plaything, and in several large cities it is not uncommon to see thousands of multi-coloured incandescent light bulbs light up on the facades of large department stores for advertising purposes, arranged in various patterns... the light bulbs turn on and off and back on again in a game that would be childish if it did not represent a real source of considerable profit”.


Around the light bulb

Yet man just cannot do without light bulbs. Such an leading player in the history of electricity, and its heirs, are entitled to be surrounded by components that are just as important. For example, just look through the Scame catalogue to see the large number of products used to turn on light bulbs, from portable lighting equipment (Hale Series), to lamp holders (Lux Series), from mini-trunking (Wado Series), to switches, up to the socket outlets (Libera, Omnia, Optima, Protecta).

Scame’s products are all top quality. Besides, for a star such as the light bulb, and for its heirs, why not use components that are just as famous?

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