Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Father of Electric Christmas Lights

The Father of Electric Christmas Lights

father of christmas lights

Prior to the invention of electric Christmas lights, wax candles were used to illuminate Christmas trees.  Consequently, that was very dangerous because lighted candles could cause the Christmas trees to catch on fire.  That's where Edward Hibberd Johnson came in.  He introduced electric Christmas tree lights in 1882.  It added flash and color to the Yuletide tradition as well as save lives in the process.  In the waning days of 1882, Johnson joined his fellow New Yorkers in 'decking the halls.'  He decorated the parlor of his home with a majestic evergreen.  For this Christmas season, Johnson decided to freshen the cherished holiday tradition with the new state-of-the art tradition--electric Christmas lights.  Three years before this Thomas Edison had invented the light bulb.  As a manager of the Automatic Telegraph Company in 1871, he had hired 24-year old Thomas Edison.  Later their roles were reversed with the former boss being the employee.  Johnson had worked as a vice-president of the Edison Electric Company and Johnson was the chief engineer for the electric generation system that Edison had unveiled in lower Manhattan that September. 

Johnson decided to make history and replaced wax candles with electric lights--which greatly reduced Christmas trees going up in flames and homes burning down.  He did it in his home.  He had 80 electric red, white, and blue light bulbs which were wired.  They were as large as an English walnut and they lit up Johnson's tree.  An additional 28 lights sparkled on two wires mounted on the ceiling.  The lights spun in a circle six times a minute on a little pine box as its lights flashed "in a continuous twinkling of "dancing colors".  The current for the lights came from Edison's office.

The advent of electric Christmas lights was revolutionary considering the fact that prior to the time wax candles was used to light trees.  Christmas trees were a lot safer due to this electric Christmas lights.  To read the full story, click on the above link.

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