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Light will rule. The true history of flashlights.


Since the dawn of history, mankind feels a strong need for hand-held sources of light. There were various candles, torches, oil and kerosene lamps to carry around. But there was a catch: in view of the fact that flame was used as a light source, they were unsafe and risky. This problem was resolved with the creation of incandescent electric bulb and of dry battery at the end of the 19th century.   

1896 was remarkable because of the invention of the first dry cell battery. It was a refined modification of preceding model in that way that its electrolyte was a paste in place of liquid. This is why it could function in any position and it wouldn’t spill or break so easily. It represented an ideal power supply for a portable light source. 

The first flashlight was invented by David Misell, the English inventor, in 1899. It had 3xD batteries, which were put in a tube that played the role of a handle of the device. Batteries supplied a small incandescent electric light bulb with power and an ordinary contact switch turned light on and off. They became known as “flash” lights as they couldn’t emit light for a long time. You had to turn them off to “rest” because early flashlights operated on zinc-carbon batteries. Such kind of batteries couldn’t give stable current for prolonged period of time.

First flashlights weren’t sold too well for two reasons: improper performance of batteries and ineffective carbon-filament bulbs. Flashlight became a more efficient device thanks to the replacement of carbon filament with tungsten and improvement of batteries. This all raised its popularity and it started to displace lamps with inflammable fuel.

By 1922, there were various designs of flashlights. There was a classic cylindrical variation, reflector type for illumination a greater area, a lantern-shaped model that could be left to stand and a small pocket variant. Diverse variations and utility were the main factors of the high demand, which led to 10 million flashlight causes by the same time.

Present-day flashlights usually have the similar parts and function the same. They most frequently apply LEDs or incandescent bulbs. LEDs are electronic elements, semiconductors that emit light. They are much more effective in comparison with incandescent bulbs and last longer. As a source of energy, LEDs mainly use batteries but they can also utilize accumulators or super-capacitors, they can be charged mechanically or by solar power. They are created in countless number of shapes. They are made like pens or key rings, as headlamps on helmets or as high power reflectors, with clips for mounting on weapon – there are hundreds of different options.

Flashlight is an object that started as a novelty and then changed into a real necessity with thousands of possible applications. The outcome is truly impressive.

Important milestones in the history of flashlights

Every person has at least one flashlight on hand for emergencies. You can find it in most toolboxes; it’s used by plumbers and electricians, fire fighters and different emergency services, tourists and sportsmen, hunters and fishermen, and so on. It can be also found in a car, on a key chain and even in a toy box.

In spite of the fact that the flashlight is a relatively recent invention, it has become a must-have device for everyone.

1866 - The first battery appeared. It was created by George Leclanche, the French inventor. He named it a ‘single fluid electric generating battery’. It represented a wet cell, made by filling a glass jar with manganese dioxide, zinc and ammonium chloride and then adding a carbon bar for the positive end of the cell. It wasn’t portable.

1879 - The incandescent bulb was invented by Thomas Edison.

1888 - Dr. Carl Gassner, a German scientist, improved the battery by putting the wet cell chemicals into a hermetic zinc container. In that way the first portable battery and the first dry cell appeared.

Eveready was the basic name of flashlights. Once Joshua Lionel Cowen, the owner of the American Eveready Battery Company, created a decorative illumination device for flower pots. It represented a metal tube with a bulb and a dry cell battery that could run the bulb for 30 days.

To obtain recognition for their invention, Misell and Hubert created several hand lights and gave them to the policemen of New York City.

Misell patented some of his flashlights. Later these patents were given to Hubert’s company. In 1899, Hubert was honored with a patent for his clover leaf bicycle light. These elaborations along with 23 other bulb and battery products were presented in the 1899 American Eveready Battery Company catalog with the catchword “Let There Be Light.”

1888 - Conrad Hubert, Russian immigrant and inventor, established the American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company (later renamed Eveready).

1898 – Production of the first Ever Ready flashlight. There was a biblical quote "Let There Be Light" on the cover of the 1899 Eveready catalog, which advertised a new flashlight.

1906 - Hubert sold a half interest in his company to National Carbon Company, a provider of battery materials, for $200.000. He remained the president of the company.

1906 – The trade name was changed from Ever Ready to Eveready®.

1910 - Essential enhancements were made in flashlight technology. Tungsten filament bulbs were invented. They displaced carbon filaments in light bulbs since they were more effective and brighter.

People didn’t have to worry no more about a kerosene lamp or the flame of a candle. According to an Eveready booklet, which was called “101 Uses For An Eveready,” by 1916 the flashlight was regarded as an important personal object - “the light that doesn’t flicker in a draft, die out in the wind and is controlled immediately by finger pressure. Everyone needs such kind of light”. Some of the flashlight’s 101 introduced applications included reading fruit labels, signaling with Morse Code and filling the tank of a gasoline stove. There were also improvements in the design of the flashlight. It changed from a ring tab that needed pressure to operate to the on / off switch that we use at present.

1937 – Introduction of prefocus bulb.

In the 1950s National Carbon Company was renamed in Energizer.

1956 - Energizer presented the first 9-volt battery.

1958 - The first batteries for employment in transistor radios and rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries appeared.

1959 - The first standard alkaline battery for prolonged battery life in portable, battery-powered devices was presented.

1963 - The development of lithium battery technology.

1966 - First thermoplastic molded light.

1967 - First rechargeable light.

1968 - First fluorescent lantern.

1970 - First water-resistant flashlight. First push-button switch. Introduction of lifelong switch warranty.

1983 - First 4AA fluorescent flashlight.

1984 - First 2D Halogen light.

1986 - First squeeze flashlight.

1998 - Eveready® celebrates 100 years of illumination products leadership.

Today, Energizer is the world’s leading manufacturer of flashlights and batteries, producing more than 6 billion battery cells every year.


No more problems with light

Since the flashlight appeared, it has affected the lives of people all over the world in various situations. At present the flashlight revolution keeps on to be strong as ever. Flashlights play a significant role in making our work easier, keeping us safe and maintaining a better quality of life in many other ways.