A Brief History of Battery Powered Lighting

A Brief History of Battery Powered Lighting

Our favorite little cordless lamps are everywhere we turn it seems - and for good reason. Their long battery life, practicality, and attractive design make them ideal for numerous applications.  As such - I thought it might be fitting to share a brief history of battery-powered lighting, which, I have come to find out, dates back to the early 1800s when the first battery was invented by Alessandro Volta. I hope you enjoy this brief newsletter and I thank you for reading!

 - Patrick Dolat, Shopkeeper at Newport Lamp & Shade Company


Painting of Alessandro Volta
Alessandro Volta
Image courtesy Wikipeida 

In the 1860s, portable batteries were developed that could power small electric bulbs. These early batteries were made using a combination of zinc and copper plates, and they could produce enough electricity to power small electric bulbs for short periods of time.One of the earliest examples of battery-powered lighting was the electric torch, which was invented in 1899 by David Misell. The electric torch was powered by a battery and could be carried around, making it much more convenient than gas or oil lamps.

Phot of the Volta battery, at the Tempio Voltiano museum, Como
Volta battery, at the Tempio Voltiano Museum, Como
Image courtesy Wikipedia

The First Tubular Flashlight was invented in 1898 by David Misell
The First Tubular Flashlight was invented in 1898 by David Misell, British inventory who lived in New York City for a number of years. 
Image Courtesy CandlePowerForums.com

The popularity of battery-powered lighting continued to grow throughout the early 20th century. In the 1920s and 1930s, flashlights became widely available and were commonly used in homes, businesses, and by the military. During World War II, battery-powered lighting became even more important. Soldiers needed portable, reliable sources of light that could be used in the field, and battery-powered flashlights were the perfect solution.

1944 Advertisment for the TL122 Flashlight

An ad from July of 1944 by Schuster’s Department Store for a military surplus flashlight.  It came complete with batteries and bulb for $1.99.
Image courtesy onetuberadio.com

In the 1950s and 1960s, new types of batteries were developed that could produce more power and last longer. This led to the development of larger battery-powered lights, such as lanterns and spotlights, that could be used for camping and outdoor activities.

Image ofMuseum Artifact: Big Beam No. 164 Sealed Beam Beacon Lamp and Big Beam No. 403 F Emergency Lamp, 1950s  Made By: U-C Lite MFG Co., 1050 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL [West Town]

Big Beam No. 164 Sealed Beam Beacon Lamp. Manufactured by U-C Lite MFG Co., 1050 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL.
Image courtesy MadeinChicagoMuseum.com

Today, battery-powered lighting is more advanced than ever. LED technology has revolutionized the way we use battery-powered lights, making them more energy-efficient and longer-lasting than ever before. Battery-powered lights are now used for a wide range of purposes, from emergency lighting to decorative lighting for homes and businesses.

This newsletter was written with help from Chat GPT.

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