A Brief History of the Invention of the Flashlight

When the first drycell and miniature incandescent light bulbs were invented, the idea of a flashlight became possible. Thanks to inventor David Misell, the first flashlight came to the market in 1899. It was powered by three Size-D batteries that were placed in the tube that doubled as a handle for the flashlight. A simple contact turned power on or off to the small electric light bulb.

Other flashlights were being invented around the same time. Ever-Ready founded Conrad Huber was awarded a patent for his electric hand flashlight in 1898. Their first flashlights would hit the market in 1902.

Today’s Flashlights Are Quite Different, But Still Sort of the Same

Many of the flashlights that are offered for sale today are equipped with a different kind of light technology. The incandescent bulbs are being replaced by light-emitting diodes, which are called LEDs. There are incandescent flashlights still available, but since 1999, the bright white light of an LED flashlight has often been the preferred type of light because of their efficiency.

White LEDs are able to produce 100 lumens for every watt. In comparison, an incandescent bulb is only able to produce 8-10 lumens per watt. LED lighting is also more power efficient, allowing a flashlight to be operated for longer periods of time on battery power.

HID Flashlights: Another Innovative Step Forward

Although they are not very common, another advancement in the flashlight industry is the development of a High Intensity Discharge [HID] lamp. This type of flashlight that is powered by a gas discharge that uses argon and metal halide salts. They are able to produce more light than an incandescent flashlight and are very shock resistant, but also tend to be the most expensive flashlights available as well since they require a ballast circuit.

Yet HID flashlights are almost competitive with LED flashlights. A 35watt-HID flashlight would produce 3,000 lumens, which is just 500 lumens less than the average LED design.

Design Updates Are the Future of the Flashlight Industry

Flashlights have been growing brighter and smaller over the years, which has encouraged manufacturers to develop new styles of flashlights to serve certain needs.

  • Small pen-size flashlights offer pinpoint accuracy for inspections.
  • LED headlamps are perfect for a hands-free flashlight experience.
  • Tactical flashlights offer a reinforced housing that can be virtually indestructible and offers a variety of self-defense features.
  • Angle-head flashlights allow you to aim where the beam will be directed from the flashlight without the need to move an arm.

Then there is the entire class of rechargeable flashlights that allow you to have the light you need for hours at a time without the need to keep changing batteries.

The invention of the flashlight helped bring the world into a new age. No longer would candles or other oil-based sources of light need to be used to light the way at night. Whether they are large, miniature, or somewhere in-between, there is a flashlight that is perfect for you right now.


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