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The most important evolution of all : Lighting!

Team StoryWeavers|November 25, 2020, 05:17 IST| 137

Can you imagine an evening without any lights at home?

Well, there was a time when the setting of the sun indicated the end of the day’s work and signalled people to have an early dinner and call it a night.

Image Source: GIPHY

Image Source: GIPHY

But then the human race learned to tame fire and start using it to illuminate their homes at night. With that came the first primitive curved stone oil lamps, roughly in 70,000 BCE, which later got replaced by rushlights, consisting of moss or a core of reeds that were soaked in animal fat and lit ablaze. Gradually the moss got replaced by a ‘wick’ and was combined with early candle materials like beeswax or tallow (a hard fatty substance made from rendered animal fat). With this invention, candles became a sensation, as they could now control the burning length of the fire through wicks! Accompanied by a humble stand, it marched along with humans at night.

Centuries later came Thomas Edison, who tamed electricity inside a bulb and called it a discovery in 1879 that changed the way mankind dealt with darkness altogether. Everybody knows this part. But how did mankind learn to control electricity? Were there any discoveries post-Edison’s electric bulb? In this month’s Evolution of Everything, let’s tour the history of man-made lights – from oil lamps to electric bulbs, and from neon lights to stunning LEDs.


When French chemist Antoine Lavoisier’s discovery of oxygen and combustion touched the ancient craft of burning oil, it led to the creation of reformed versions of oil lamps. Subsequently, in 1780, Ami Argand, a Genevan physicist and chemist, invented the Argand lamp. It consisted of a hollow, circular wick, and a burner which was more luminous and efficient than previous oil lamps. Later on, his lamp got modified and was used with coal gas in 1784.

A portrait of Ami Argand, the man behind the famous Argand Lamp. Photo Credit: Detroit Institute of Art

A portrait of Ami Argand, the man behind the famous Argand Lamp. Photo Credit: Detroit Institute of Art


We can thank William Murdoch for experimenting with gas lighting and producing the first gaslight in this year. He produced lights using coal gas for lighting his house in Redruth, Cornwall. Soon, gas lights became popular and most cities in the United States and Europe had streets lit with gaslights.

Over the years, different types of gaslights have used different kinds of fuel that includes methane, acetylene, butane, propane, hydrogen, and natural gas. Thus, the growth of gaslights and the infrastructure to support them mirrored the advancements of the era of crude oil in the 1850s.


England’s Sir Humphry Davy invented the first electric arc lamp in 1815. He connected two wires to a battery and used charcoal strips as electrodes. This produced a sufficiently intense white light. By 1841, arc lighting started being adopted as street lighting in Paris as an experiment.

An early form of Davy lamp

An early form of Davy lamp


The 1870s

With the advancement of electric current began an era of fast progress in scientific pursuits. The decade witnessed numerous inventors patenting various forms of electric bulbs. Among them was the most influential carbon-thread incandescent lamp invented by American inventor Thomas Edison and Sir Joseph Swann of England. In 1879, Edison set out to invent the long-lasting electric light bulb that could compete with gaslighting. 

This revolutionary advancement established electricity as the primary source of lighting for both indoors and outdoors.


The 20th century was the era of high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. The beginning of the century saw the neon bulb trend when Georges Claude of France invented the neon lamp in 1911. Then popular as ‘liquid fire’ neon lights worked by applying an electric charge to a sealed tube of neon gas, thus causing it to glow.


A decade later, in 1927, three inventors – Friedrich Meyer, Hans Spanner, and Edmund Germer -invented the fluorescent light. These fluorescent lamps were filled with mercury vapour, which produced light when an electric current was passed through it. Due to its high efficiency, soon it surpassed incandescent lights to become the most commonly used lights in the United States. 

The 1960s 

This decade saw one lighting technology that was significantly different from the various HID bulbs. Called as the Light-Emitting Diode (LED), it didn’t require a glass housing like traditional bulbs and produced light by converting electrical current using a semiconductor. In 1962, General Electric scientist Nick Holonyak developed the first practical visible-spectrum (red) LED. 

Another important invention of this decade was that of the laser light by American physicist Theodore Harold Maiman on 16 May 1960, at Hughes Research Laboratories. 

1976 – Present

A series of energy crises between 1967 and 1979 caused by problems in the Middle East propelled scientists to find a convenient way to conserve energy. One scientist was Edward E. Hammer, who was working on a way to bend fluorescent tubes into a spiral shape and create the first Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) light that consumed less energy. The bulb could last 10 times longer than incandescent lights and used 75% lesser energy. 

With the growing influence of technology, the evolution of lighting took a new turn. Introduction of smart lighting coupled with wireless charging enabled users to remotely control cooling, heating, and lighting appliances, while minimizing unnecessary light and energy use. 

Photo Credit - Pinterest

Photo Credit – Pinterest

Another stylish and unobtrusive technology was the motion sensor lights, first invented in the early 1950s by Samuel Bango. He applied the fundamentals of radar to ultrasonic waves, a frequency that humans cannot hear, to detect a thief or a fire and named it as a burglar alarm’. Much later, sensor lights became a part of every house and industry for being effortless, providing high levels of security, taking up minimal space while conserving a lot of energy.

The evolution of lighting is a long and luminous story. We can only guess where it will go from here. What will lighting look like in 50 years? What about the 22nd century? Tell us in the comment section below. 

About the Author

Books are Tanaya Goswami’s first love and cheesecakes come a close second. Talking about movies, music, calligraphy, politics, and Elon Musk will get you listed under the friends’ section of her diary. Ever since moving on from her job as an English lecturer, she spends her time at BYJU’S crafting stories filled with emotion and sprinkled with sarcasm. Outside of work, she’s either learning something new (French, most recently!) or is curled up with a book and a cup of coffee. She firmly believes that discovering what you don’t know is the key to knowledge and is constantly working towards improving herself. Drop in a line at if you liked her stories, have something nice to say, or if you have compelling ideas to share!

Leave a Comment



Nikunj gaur

January 6, 2021

Very interesting to read. Thanku for sharing this story.

Kamesh yadav

December 30, 2020

It’s a fantastic article?
But im not able to recieve other newsletters even after subscribing


December 28, 2020

Ma’am, why can’t we use an electric bulb in place of an water heater with the element. They both give out heat and light

shivani sharma

December 26, 2020

the lights look 50years ago that the sun is working like lights the invotor invated the first light was the candles and after that the coal gas lamp the light look in lamp in 1870s the first electric bulb invated by thomas edition and sir josphson the elctirc was successfully inviated and after the invation are happen and the so many things are invated by many invators…. and so on.
peoples coonected with light now they are depended on light people considerd the light in all place where they are going these story helping that understand what the peoples do when light not invated how the technology of light will reach in.light will be floating all around us, switching off and on as per our order. these invation are makes us feel like that the we included in these invation. and we saw how the bulb and lights are made
light play the so important role in our day to day life. today technology are depend on light and the make life very eaiser and soo on.

Natasha athote

December 22, 2020

Hi, I am Natasha. Thanks to BYJU’S app for making my studies easy for me. I really like this information about light and its evolution. just like this information about light, even we as students have to shine bright like light. I hope your this information will light up my life. This is my promise that l will bright one day also.
Thanks BYJU’S for making this app! ??


December 21, 2020

Very true

Anushka hundet

December 20, 2020

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Thanks byju’s


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December 14, 2020

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Ayushi Verma

December 14, 2020

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Andhavarapu sankar Rao

December 14, 2020


Prashant kewat

December 5, 2020


Sree Lasya

December 5, 2020

Very interesting! Maybe in the 22nd century, we will be able to control lights from a few metres or even kilometres away!!!!!


December 4, 2020

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December 2, 2020

This article helped me understand the history of lightning

Sahil Hilal

November 27, 2020

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Very intresting to read


November 26, 2020

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Big fan of DIVYA MAM .
THANK YOU for your support mam .

Anushka hundet

November 24, 2020

I am amazed by this story


November 23, 2020

May be in 22th century there will be those type of bulbs that if we will think them to switch on than they will switch on automatically.


November 22, 2020

Very interesting to read

Chinmai Chaudhari

November 20, 2020

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Anushka sharma

November 20, 2020

This story was worth reading.
So much informations. This story was much needed to learn how lights came in existence and how they evoluted. Thank You for this.

Jayan Das

November 20, 2020

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November 19, 2020

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Tiana chopra

November 18, 2020

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November 17, 2020

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November 17, 2020

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Ritesh Verma

November 16, 2020

Thankyou Byju’s

N. Suvitha

November 16, 2020

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Aryan Kumar

November 16, 2020

Thank you Byju’s for giving me mystry of the light bulb from oil lamp to sensor motion bulb.


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November 15, 2020

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November 15, 2020

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Sadiya kounine kittur

November 14, 2020

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Sadiya kounine kittur

November 14, 2020

It is amazing to no the history thanks ✨✨bjyus team and all the teacher??


November 14, 2020

Thank you byjus for giving this information about the history of lights.


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November 13, 2020

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November 12, 2020

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November 12, 2020

Thank u for sharing this information
With us

Nikhita sree

November 12, 2020

Thank u byjus
For sharing a wonderful story of light with us


November 12, 2020

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Yatin Sai Chaitanya

November 12, 2020

Maybe the lights in the 22nd century be like it would get lit automatically when a car moves near it and they may be using water instead of electricity


November 11, 2020

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November 10, 2020

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Thankyou so much????????


November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020


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November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020

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November 10, 2020


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November 10, 2020

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Thank you Byju’s for giving a such a nice article.

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November 9, 2020

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November 9, 2020



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November 9, 2020

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November 9, 2020

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November 9, 2020

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November 9, 2020

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November 8, 2020



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November 8, 2020

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November 8, 2020

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November 8, 2020

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November 8, 2020

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November 8, 2020

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Shourya singh

November 8, 2020

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Sourajyoti Karmakar

November 7, 2020

It was an interesting brief history of one of my most fascinating developments in the field of technology. Lightning is absolutely necessary and many engineers contributed in its development. Just thinking about them makes me amazed.


November 7, 2020

Very informative

A.bvishal Inesh

November 7, 2020

The light will became a remote control.that is instead of using wires in mic

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020


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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

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Bal Krishan Dwivedi

November 7, 2020

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G Ranganatha Rtd Lecturer

November 7, 2020

Narration of the lighting evolution is very attractive. The conclusion that makes the students to visualize the developments decades ahead is quite appreciable.

Bhavya Chauhan

November 7, 2020

1 Future light will be able to light up the whole house in the 22nd century.

Swastik Banerjee

November 7, 2020

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November 7, 2020

I loved it and I share it with my friend ?


November 6, 2020

Motor sensor lighting can also be use in Security!???


November 6, 2020

Wow! Fantastic Evolution about Light sources!??? And also the “Motion Sensor lighting is very Amazing as we don’t have to switch it on and and it can save much Electricity⚡⚡⚡ !!!


November 6, 2020

Inspiration for us to invent something more fascinating

Parth Nanasaheb Rananaware

November 6, 2020

I loved this information very much. Now I think I can also make a bulb. ???


November 6, 2020

I understand lessons

Uma Maheswar

November 6, 2020

Good Morning beti Tanaya,

Very useful knowledge and very beautifully written.
God bless you added with my blessings.

Soumyadeep Ganguly

November 6, 2020

I think it is beyond our thinking capacity how the technology of lighting will reach its zenith. I think lights will be floating all around us, switching off and on as per our orders.


November 6, 2020

Very fascinating I love the story


November 6, 2020

Thank you for sharing this story.

Archi pramod Todlekar

November 6, 2020



November 6, 2020

Very interesting to read ??

Austin Victor

November 6, 2020

Thank You BYJU’S for giving me such an informative knowledge about the history of light. I hope you will reach more greater heights!!!


October 9, 2020

I think byjus is providing the platform to the students not only for studies and also for their own interests as we seen. Proud to be an byjute. We will never and ever forgot byjus founder raveendran for his wonderful platform for students

Dhairya Chandak

October 8, 2020

The lighting in future will be……. Lasers will create 3D untouchable shapes or even holographic images that look totaly real.


October 5, 2020

Yep ! Our first lesson in English is about lamps??????


October 3, 2020

Wow that’s amazing, I didnt know that and Byju’s always tries to give us the knowledge of everything small to big. Thank you Byju’s. And the motion sensor light are amazing and are giving us the
an eye of future !


October 2, 2020

First to view


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