January 7, 2013 in Trivia
A: The first neon lighting was developed by French physicist Georges Claude and displayed at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Two 45mm wide by 35m long neon tubes were used to illuminate the peristyle of the Grand Palais where the show was held.
The main drawback of early neon lighting was it was red. That frustrated Claude’s intention of providing practical, home lighting. Jacques Fonseque, an advertiser, convinced Claude the invention would be better suited for illuminated signs. Fonseque’s firm, Paz et Silva, subsequently purchased the rights to the invention.
In 1912, the first neon sign was posted over a local Parisian barbershop: “LE PALACE COIFFEUR” at 14 boulevard Montmartre. The first neon advertisement appeared that year also: “CINZANO” at 72 boulevard Haussmann. Still, these signs were limited by their red color.
Claude joined the firm of Paz et Silva to continue the development of his idea. Other colors were produced by introducing powders of the appropriate hue to the tubes. By 1914, about 150 buildings in Paris boasted neon lighting.
Today, neon lighting appears everywhere in many colors and serves not only commercial, but public and artistic uses.