Saturday 3rd December 1910
Neon lighting, invented by French physicist Georges Claude, was first demonstrated at the Paris Auto Show. The demonstration lasted until December 18. Over the next fifty years neon would soar in use, illuminating thousands of signs across the globe. The technology of Claude’s neon glow lamp is still widely used today, especially as a component of plasma displays and televisions. As a chemist, Claude made a series of notable discoveries. In his studies of inert gases, he found that by passing electrical current through them, they would produce light. Subsequently, he produced the neon lamp and his display in Paris was in the form of two long tubes. The adaption to signage was obvious and the first sign was reportedly sold to a Parisian barber in 1912. Claude would go on to become a man of considerable wealth. In 1923, Claude’s company sold two neon signs to a Los Angeles-based car dealer and business pioneer, Earle C. Anthony. Neon and America were seemingly made for one another. Within less than twenty years, there were nearly 2000 businesses in the United States producing neon signs. By the 1950s urban centres were literally lit with commercial signage and advertisements–some of which still exist today.