The history of neon LED letterings
Whether Tokyo, New York, Las Vegas or Berlin, shrill neon advertising has been an integral part of the urban area for a century. The neon writing shows us the way to the bar, the cinema or the hairdresser. There are even fewer limits to creativity today than ever before, because now you can have LED lettering made to measure in all colors and shapes. You don't have to search long for it, because NEONMONKI has a free Configurator, with which you can easily create your words in your favorite color and font.
But how did neon advertising come to be commercially available? And how did the LED letterings prevail? We want to talk about that in the following article.
Commercial use of neon letterings for neon signs
As early as the 19th century, chemists discovered that certain gases could be held in a glass tube and made to glow with an electric charge. This was the foundation for the neon sign.
However, it was not used commercially until 1912, when Georges Claude installed the first neon lettering as an advertising sign for a Parisian barber shop. He was declared the father of neon advertising and had that confirmed with a US patent in 1915. After the first neon lettering appeared at a car dealer in Los Angeles in 1923 and the passing people couldn't take their eyes off this new curiosity, there was no turning back.
The neon lettering began to appear everywhere. Whether in front of bars, shopping malls or in Times Square in New York, the world was more colorful than ever before. The futuristic style of lighting found favor in all industries. At the 1938 World's Fair in New York, General Motors erected a giant neon sign reading "Futurama" to illuminate the path to the automobile manufacturers' exhibition at the World of Tomorrow.
With the Second World War, the popularity collapsed, as business owners could no longer bear the relatively high costs of maintaining the glass tubes with gas. In addition, more and more dodgy business models were assigned to neon font among the masses, which undoubtedly forced conventional retailers to switch to alternatives.
After the economic boom in the 50s and 60s and the reverence of neon lettering in the increasingly popular pop culture, neon advertising made a comeback in the 70s. Since then, the popularity has remained, but the materials and composition of the signs have changed dramatically.
Innovation in neon advertising: LED Lettering
Today, LED lettering is more popular than neon advertising. There are numerous reasons for this. For one thing, glass tubes are fragile, which makes transportation and installation a challenge. Secondly, the fluorescent tubes contain mercury, which means that particular care must be taken when disposing of them. Conventional neon signs can only be produced by experienced glassblowers, which increases production costs accordingly.
In contrast, LED lettering uses modern technology that is easier to use and far more energy efficient. Instead of gases and glass, semiconductors and a process known as electroluminescence are used. Electricity is converted into light over a tiny area without producing any heat. The power consumption is reduced by up to 90% compared to neon letters. The irritating humming of the neon tubes is also absent. In addition, this form of neon sign is far more shatterproof.
But how did the development of LED technology come about? Let's take a closer look at this aspect.
History of LED lighting
Hardly any other light source has revolutionized the lighting market as much as LED technology. With increasing performance and efficiency, the demand has increased so much over the last few decades that the price level has fallen sharply and other light sources are being displaced more and more from the market.
But that looked very different at the beginning of the creation. As early as the 1920s, the Russian physicist Losev discovered that inorganic materials can be made to glow through the action of electrical voltage. However, the first LED light was too weak to really be of use. The process was made known as electroluminescence by the French scientist George Destriau in 1936, but it took 30 years for the technology to regain attention.
In the late 1950s, American laboratories experimented with semiconductors, which inevitably led to the development of the first practically applicable LED lamp. Nick Holonyak invented the first LED light that emitted clearly visible red light in 1962 as an employee at General Electric. He was then declared the father of LED technology.
In the 1970s, the colors green, orange and yellow were added, which stimulated the commercial use of the technology. By continuously trying and using new materials for the manufacturing of semiconductors, the variety of color nuances increased further in the 1990s. The area of application of LED technology grew and the advertising industry recognized the potential within a short period of time.
The development reached its peak in the 2000s when the light output of an LED lamp was increased to 100 Lumens per Watt. In comparison, a previously conventional light bulb only produced 10 Lumens per Watt.
With this performance and efficiency, it naturally makes sense to use the complex manufacturing method and toxic and fragile materials of neon signs for purposes of nostalgia and art, while LED writing can be used in the commercial sector and at home.
LED letterings today: This is how the trend towards more efficient lighting has established itself
Retro is king! Nostalgia has become a lifestyle over the past two decades. Whether it's 60s Pop Art or 80s neon colors, everything comes back somehow at some point. This revival culture is always setting new trends that spread through social media. On Instagram, Pinterest and Co, there are tons of ideas on how to make a style statement with neon LED lettering. You can also find inspiration on our Instagram and Pinterest profiles.
As you already learned in our personal company history, our passion for neon signs has started some time ago. Our vision is to offer every consumer and every business owner the opportunity to make their shops and homes livelier and more colorful with trendy LED lettering. Even on corporate events or weddings, a statement can be made with LED lettering. Together, we are bringing back the trend of letting neon signs show the way. Only this time it is easier, more environmentally friendly and more economical!
With the LED technology that we use in our products, this becomes possible. Our signs are characterized by energy efficiency, resistance to breakage, qualitative craftsmanship and truly always being on trend.
We appreciate nostalgia as much as innovation, which is why we make it possible for you to create LED letterings just like the early neon signs with our Configurator. If it's not what you want or what you're looking for, you can contact our Customer Service anytime and we will try our best to find a solution. You will soon find out that the LED letterings are in no way inferior to the neon technology in terms of style and aesthetics.