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Competition for 20th Century Lamps:

Bracketed information [xxx] does not appear on the label.

[SL28/29 - Section #4 introduction label combined with credits]

Step 4: Competition

"When you come out with a product, you need to give people choices."
Gilbert Reiling, former GE engineer, 1996

If a product is successful, other companies inevitably will try to supply that choice. Sometimes competitors come up with a different way of doing the same thing or at least make significant improvements. Or they sign a licensing agreement.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps

A wide variety of designs have been marketed since the first CFL in 1981. A few can be seen here and in these ads. Notice the prototype fixture (17), that was designed for the new lamp.

Objects: Top Two Rows

  1. Philips "SL-18" integral lamp with magnetic ballast, about 1981 [1997.0389.26], from Philips Lighting Co.
  2. Interlectric "U-Lite" integral lamp with magnetic ballast, about 1981 [1992.0553.01], from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  3. GE Biax T/E modular lamp, 1995, from General Electric Lighting Co.
  4. Janmar modular lamp, about 1987 [1992.0553.03], from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  5. Duro-Test "Xelescent" modular reflector-lamp, 1991 [1997.0062.09], from Duro-Test Corp.
  6. GE Biax modular lamp, about 1993
  7. Lights of America "Super Q'Lite" modular lamp, about 1992 [1996.0357.05], from Potomac Electric Power Co.
  8. Duro-Test "Duro-Brite" modular lamp, about 1996 [1997.0062.11], from Duro-Test Corp.
  9. Philips "SL-18 Magnetic" integral reflector-lamp, about 1985 [1997.0389.36], from Philips Lighting Co.
  10. Philips demonstration "SL-18 Electronic" lamp, about 1985 [1997.0389.28], from Philips Lighting Co.

    Third Row:

  11. Feit Electric Co. integral lamp, about 1986 [1997.0389.11], from Philips Lighting Co.
  12. Philips demonstration "SL-18 Electronic" lamp, about 1990 [1997.0389.29], from Philips Lighting Co.
  13. Panasonic "Light Capsule" integral lamp, about 1993 [1996.0357.01], from Potomac Electric Power Co.
  14. Philips demonstration "EarthLight" lamp, about 1995 [1997.0389.30], from Philips Lighting Co.
  15. Duro-Test "Spiralux" integral lamp, 1996 [1997.0062.07], from Duro-Test Corp.
  16. GE "Genura" electrodeless lamp, 1999, from the General Electric Lighting Co.


  17. Prototype recessed-downlight with Sylvania lamps, 1995 [1999.0324.03], from the U.S. Dept. of Energy


  1. Link International ad for a compact fluorescent lamp, 1998
  2. Tek-Tron ad for lighting products, 1991
  3. Mitsubishi ad for a compact fluorescent lamp, 1985
  4. Duro-Test ad for a compact fluorescent work-light conversion kit, 1992
  5. OSRAM SYLVANIA Point-Of-Sale fixtures, 1997
  6. Panasonic catalog for compact fluorescent lamps, 1995

Webnote 9-1
[CFL information]

[I2L1: fluorescent lamps interactive activity #1]

Two-Stage Light

These special tubes are partly coated so you can see inside. In the unlighted tube, tiny drops of mercury appear as silver specks. In the lighted tube an electric current has heated a gas that in turn has vaporized the mercury.

Fluorescent tubes make white light in two stages. Stage 1: the electric current causes the mercury atoms to emit ultraviolet rays and the blue glow. Stage 2: the ultraviolet light causes the phosphor in the tube s coating to emit visible light.

Very little energy is lost in either of these stages. That is why fluorescent lamps are so efficient.

[I2L2: fluorescent lamps interactive activity #2]

[Curator's note: the Out of the Blue interactive was permanently removed during the 2004 renovation due to recurring maintenance issues.]

Out of the Blue

Slide the panel to the right and watch what happens.

The purple tube is a special lamp producing ultraviolet rays that give energy to the materials (called phosphors) coated on each panel. Each phosphor radiates a different color light and these colors can be combined to create white light.

A fluorescent lamp emits white light because it has a carefully formulated mixture of phosphors on the inside of the tube.

Webnote 9-2
[science information]

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