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The History of the Flashlight

 

flash·light

NOUN:

  1. A small portable lamp usually powered by batteries.

  2. A brief brilliant flood of light from a photographic lamp.

  3. A bright light, as of a signal lamp, that flashes at regular intervals.

AT A GLANCE:

Although a flashlight is a relatively simple device, its invention did not occur until the late 19th century because it depended upon the earlier invention of the electric battery and electric light. Conrad Hubert received a US patent in 1903 , number 737,107 issued August 26, for a flashlight with an on/off switch in the now familiar cylindrical casing containing lamp and batteries.
Invention: flashlight in 1902
Definition: noun / flash·light, flashlight, flash-light
Function: a small portable battery-powered electric lamp, typically flashlight consists of a small electric light bulb with associated parabolic reflector, powered by electric batteries, and with an electric power switch
Patent: 737,107 (US) issued August 26, 1903
Inventor: Conrad Hubert (aka Akiba Horowitz)
Criteria: First practical. Modern prototype. Entrepreneur.
Birth: April 15, 1856 in Minsk, Russia
Death: 1928
Nationality: American (of Russian decent)

 

"Let There Be Light" -- The flashlight was invented in 1898, and the biblical quote of "Let There Be Light" was on the cover of the 1899 Eveready catalog.

The original owner of the American Eveready Battery Company, Joshua Lionel Cowen, abandoned the hardware company to pursue his real passion of trains. Cowen was an inventor of sorts; he developed a fuse to ignite photographic flash powder. Though the invention failed in its intent, the U.S. Navy bought up the fuses to use with underwater explosives.

Cowen next came up with an idea for a decorative lighting fixture for potted plants: a metal tube with a light bulb and a dry cell battery that could run the light bulb for 30 days. He passed the idea along to one of his Eveready salespersons, Conrad Hubert, along with his company. Hubert turned the metal tube, light bulb and battery into the world's first flashlight, and began selling the batteries and the flashlight, together and as separate items.

Hubert became a multi-millionaire, Eveready became a huge company, and Joshua Lionel Cowen finally achieved the success he really wanted: he was the person who invented toy trains in 1900. As happened with the fuses and the flashlight, Cowen was actually trying to invent something else when he invented toy trains. He originally intended to create a store window display, a battery powered  toy car that traveled on a circle of track. People wanted to buy the display more than the real merchandise for sale. Cowen started Lionel Model Trains.

Reference
Joshua Lionel Cowen 1877-1965
Biography

 

 

An 1899 Ever Ready wooden Bicycle Lantern (front & back). Due to the bicycle craze of the 1890s, Bicycle Lanterns are one of the earliest types of lights made by the American Electrical Novelty & Manufacturing Company. On the earlier light, the front reflector latches at the side and there are no red & green side lights. Below is a 1900 Ever Ready Clover Leaf Bicycle lantern

 The O.T. Bugg Friendly Beacon Electric Candle sold by the United States Battery Company.

Patented November 15, 1898.

8 inches tall. 2 "D" cells were contained in the upright tube. An early brass flashlight that was turned on by screwing down the pointy thing on the top (to use the technical term.) The design and lines of this beauty would fit right in to a 1920s Flash Gordon adventure. "Don't move. I am turning on the Protecto-Ray".

 

 
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