In many ways, modern life, and OOH as we know it would be unrecognizable without something that’s as simple as the lightbulb – but this invention opened the door for widespread domestic use of electric lighting. In fact, it was on this day in 1880 that Thomas Edison was granted his patent for the incandescent bulb.
Though the formal “invention” of the lightbulb is credited to a small number of different scientists, it was ultimately Edison who arrived at a design that was feasible both scientifically and economically. English chemists Humphrey Davy and Warren de La Rue each worked on earlier iterations of incandescent bulbs decades ahead of Edison, but had challenges with the filament’s durability and price.
This invention’s impact on the world can’t be overstated, as lightbulbs quickly became integrated into both consumer and commercial applications.
The impact of this creation can be seen all over the world of OOH as well! In the early 1800s, billboards were generally hand painted, and mostly visible during daylight hours, except for ambient light coming from the surrounding area. However, as soon as 1892, illuminated OOH displays began appearing in the US, with the first being in New York City! It was an ad paid for by the Long Island Railroad, promoting real estate out on Long Island.
Beyond the newly-possible illuminated billboards, the invention of the incandescent bulb led to advancements in lighting technology that are still very much at play in the OOH world today. These incandescent bulbs eventually improved in their filament design, leading to the creation of halogen light bulbs. From there, they progressed to florescent lighting, which makes use of electrically charged gases instead of a traditional filament. This ultimately brought us to LED lighting, which is the backbone of so many technologies today – including Digital OOH! As Digital OOH displays continue to evolve, the importance of good lighting technology is crucial – and is all thanks to a patent granted over 140 years ago!