In 1855, a German glass blower and physicist, Heinrich Geissler invented the Geissler Tube. Once the electrical generators were invented the importance of this tube was experimented by many inventors. They found that when the tube was placed under low pressure and electrical voltage was applied, the gas would glow.
French engineer, chemist, and inventor Georges Claude, was the first to apply an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas to create a lamp, and on December 11. 1910 Claude displayed the first neon lamp to the public in Paris. He patented the lamp in 1915, but it wasn't until 1923 that he introduced the first neon sign to the United States. These signs were sold to the "Packard Car Dealership" in Los Angeles, CA. Earle C. Anthony purchased two signs reading "Packard" for $24,000.00.
With its great day and night advertising, neon became very popular, very quickly and in it's early days consumers would call it "liquid fire".
Today's inventors and our available technology has increased the color span of neon to hundreds of colors, however the looks of neon lighting is still as admiring and effective as the first neon sign ever made.
Geissler tubes as pictured in Deschanel's Georges Claude in his First Neon Sign in U.S.
Natural Philosophy Part III, 1901 Laboratory, 1926 Los Angeles, 1923
What is a Neon Sign?
Neon signs are glass tubes that have been heated up to 2000 degrees and hand shaped inch by inch creating letters, numbers and shapes. Well qualified neon artists can create almost anything in neon, even someones's signature. Once the shape of the tubing has been created and the tube has been sealed they are attached to a high-quality vacuum pump that removes all the excess oxygen and dirt particles and then they are pumped with a mixture of noble gases. Finally the unit is ready to be illuminated. They are powered by high voltage transformers or electronic power supplies, which range from 3,000-15,000 volts and currents from 20-120mA.
Neon Sign Color Process?
A combination of the gas pumped in to the unit and the glass itself creates the color it will ultimately glow. NEON by itself will radiate a bright Red-Orange color, and ARGON by itself produces a Blue-Lavender color. To create a more diverse amount of colors the neon units interior are coated with ultraviolet-sensitive phosphors. When the gases meet these phosphors it emits a variety of different & beautiful colors.
Neon and our Environment?
Neon and Argon gases produce negative ions that help clean the air, similar to what you would find in a modern day air purifier. Running neon sign indoors is a great way to clean smoke, dander and pet odors!
Are Neon Signs Safe?
The gases used in neon signs are NOT explosive or poisones in their natural state. Neon does contain a small amount of mercury, but its the same amount you would find in a standard fluorescent bulb at any hardware store.
However, keep in mind neon signs contain two elements that are dangerous if not used properly; Glass and High Voltage Electricity. Like any other appliance take caution when plugging in your sign. Also, like any other glass item, neon can be broken and will create sharp edges.
Can Neon be Repaired?
Yes! If you have an old neon sign that has been broken it can be repaired. Here are Riofine Neon Sign Company Inc. we have our own neon glass plant and neon bender on site. Our standard cost is between $70.00-$200.00 depending on glass size, color and the breakage.