Neon signs: a memento of the past. From the 1920s to the 1960s, they enjoyed their greatest popularity. Bright neon signs advertising goods and services from hotdogs to designer clothing at department stores and local nightclubs filled the streets. When people think of these shining streets, landmarks like the Las Vegas Strip and Times Square come to mind immediately. The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on the southern end of the Strip is one of the most well-known signs. Yet, where did neon initially come from? How did it become so popular? And is it still a useful type of signage in today’s world? Have a look at vintage neon signs
The Birth of Neon
In 1910, a French engineer named Georges Claude unveiled neon for the first time at the Paris Motor Show. Claude discovered that a “glow discharge” could be produced in a sealed glass tube containing rarified gas by passing a voltage through the electrodes. Claude’s Air Liquide air liquidation company was able to produce industrial quantities of neon because it was a byproduct of the air liquefaction process, even though more basic versions of this invention, such as the Geissler tube, had been in use for several years.
In the wake of understanding its signage and showcasing potential, Claude opened Claude Neon. By 1919, neon signs were illuminated at the Palais Garnier’s entrance and the Italian vermouth brand Cinzano.
The Golden Years
In 1923, Claude carried neon signage to the Unified State, offering two signs to a Packard vehicle sales center in Los Angeles. The signs were splendid to such an extent that bystanders would pause and gaze as they could see the shine even in the daytime.
Neon signs quickly became a popular form of outdoor advertising and spread like wildfire. Businesses saw it as a novelty meant to keep them competitive, even though it was more expensive than other forms of signage at the time. Coatings for fluorescent tubes were the most notable innovation. These coatings permitted more variety of choices. About two dozen color options were available to signmakers at the time. They now have more than one hundred.
A fascinating note: while neon was the first gas utilized in neon signs, it is just liable for a couple of varieties (generally red and orange tones). The other gas that was able to produce such glowing effects was argon, which was coated with phosphorescent coatings and doped with a little mercury. The colors of argon ranged from blue to yellow to green to purple to white.
Neon did go out of style in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but in the 1980s, it had a small comeback. These vibrant hues were utilized by television shows like Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice to reflect the tropical setting of each show. The utilization of neon in television helped restore public acceptance of the style.