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es.khnprqpw ssbtry.nvpvegncPatricia Le Goff
Urban Environment Assistant
History of the neon

A hundred-year commercial device - classic, prestige, constancy

In 1855, a German physicist, Heinrich Geissler invented the Geissler Tube. It is a tube made of glass fulfilled with gas pressed under low pressure and the electrodes made of platinum melted to either ends of the unit. They found that when the tube was placed under low pressure and electrical voltage was applied, the gas would glow. It is usually used for the spectrum of gas analysis.

Year 1899 - Some sources tell that neon's first appearance in Paris in 1899 was at Place de l' Opera - the letter "K" of Kodak brazenly projecting opposite some of the Paris' most famous monuments. A new medium had just been born.

Year 1902 - a French engineer, chemists and inventor Georges Claude (born 24th of November 1870, died 23rd of May 1960), was the first to apply an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas to create a lamp.

11th of December 1910 - that Day George Claude displayed the first neon lamp to the public in Paris (neon was the primarily used gas, giving the orange-red color. Therefore the "neon" name). 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

Year 1910 - during the Paris Motor Fair, neon lights were used on a larger scale for the first time, decorating the columns of the Grand Palais. 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". Soon, new technical advances allowed a thinner neon tube diameter and, as a result, the tube could be used to trace letters in one continuous stretch. Cinzano jumped at the opportunity to display its name in neon letters on the roof of a building in boulevard Haussmann

In the 20's - at a time, when the concept of sales promotion was still very much in its infancy, the phenomenon led to the discovery, almost by chance, that light can sell. Taking due note, the managers of major stores of Paris as Galeries Lafayette, la Samaritaine or la Belle Jardiniere decided to use small neon lighting displays on facades and rooftops to attract passers-by. At that time of carefree living, neon sign advertising even achieved the status of a new art form - it inspired such painters as Sonia Delaunay, Fernard Leger and Raoul Dufy

Year 1925 - Jacopozzi created the Citroen logo on the whole height of the Eiffel Tower. After 75 years, the Eiffel Tower was the centerpiece for the millennium celebration. Neon lights also played a key role in the success of major media events.

Nowadays, neon sign advertising reflects the economic strength and potential of a metropolis. It is an indicator of vitality. Places of world renown such as Piccadilly Circus in London, Times Square in New York, Hong Kong or Las Vegas are simultaneously a neon sign advertising paradise and major forums of nightlife.

Being visible from a far, the neon signs become a significant point of reference. The buildings concerned become a landmark, known and recognizable, change their "identity" as The Pleyel Tower on the outskirts of Paris, which became a Bayer Tower and then Philips Tower, the later name from the neon sign advertisement on its rooftop. The possibility of using the mixed gases and their mixtures make, that neons may shine with different colors, making their view more attractive.

Neon signs are luminous-tubes which have been heated, bent by a skilled neon artist and then pumped with neon or other inert gases at a low pressure. Applying a few thousand high voltage volts makes the gas glow brightly. 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. Nearby the examples of the neon tubes fulfilled with NEON and ARGON.

The spectrum of colors may differ dependent on:
  • the composition of the gas inside the tube
    • neon orange-red
    • argon: blue
    • helium: white-pink
    • krypton: white
    • xenon: blue-violet
    • Apart from inert gases there are also nitrogen (yellow-pink) and carbon dioxide (white-blue) used.

  • the particular luminofor being applied (luminofor is being used in case of the tubes fulfilled with Neon, Argon and Mercury). That mixture ionized with high voltage is emitting UV radiation in narrow, seen spectrum, which is visible as "colorful light". The luminofors can be joined/connected, there are also which shine white.

The most expensive and esthetic kind of neon is a tube colored in mass. Beside above mentioned luminofor, which enlarges the brightness and modifies its color, these tubes keep the color also when the neon is extinguished. This kind of neon glass was made for outdoor applications - for all places, when the neon would be well seen. Below are the examples of the neon tubes filled with Hel, Krypton and Ksenon.

Neon and Argon gases produce negative ions that help clean the air, similar to what you would find in a modern day air purifier. The gases used in neon signs are NOT explosive or poisonous in their natural state. Neon does contain a small amount of mercury, but it is the same amount you would find in a standard fluorescent bulb you would buy at any hardware store.,95158,4636433.html?i=2

Source: Wikipedia

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