A recent article at CNN.com showcased the long and illustrious history of neon signage accompanied by a gallery of neon signs from around the world. In the first paragraphs, the article describes neon as a dying. Though the colorful method of lighting will likely continue to be used for decades to come, the fact that it is no longer the most feasible option for sign lighting is apparent. There is simply a better option available.
It is absolutely true that in the last decade, the exponential growth of LED technology and its applications in the sign industry have been a real game changer for the old tradition of neon signage. In its century of use, neon has literally been the signature of the entertainment industry among others. Its history has been intertwined with that of America’s own.
“In 1902, just a few years after neon gas was discovered by British chemists, French engineer Georges Claude sent it coursing through electrified glass tubes, creating neon lighting. The new type of light quickly ousted incandescent bulbs, the former favorite of sign-maker.” “In the 1930’s, neon was everywhere in America. In the beginning of the decade, shops saw the glowing lights as a novelty, though an expensive one, to keep them competitive.” “Neon continued to be a “powerhouse industry” from the ’40’s through the ’60’s, but began a steady decline in the 1970’s as even small businesses found cheaper ways to advertise.” “Businesses are switching to cheaper, more energy-efficient LED bulbs and municipal planning boards are zoning out neon to decrease the number of unsightly displays. Despite its commercial decline, neon has still enjoyed periods of popularity as an art form, experts say.”
Christina Zdanowicz | CNN | July 25, 2014
Though LED technology is now used in everything from digital displays to neon-like tubing and everyday light bulbs, there will likely be a place for neon in the years to come for its iconic representation as well as simple nostalgia. Some of the oldest and most beautiful signs in recent memory come with that characteristic hum and vibrant glow.