It’s hard to believe that the technology used in the display of a calculator is now being used to illuminate entire cities. Even more impressive, perhaps, is the fact that this same technology conserves a significant amount of energy. Just what could this innovative technology be? Three letters: LED.
LED (light emitting diode) lights have been around since the early twentieth century, but the magnitude of their power was not discovered until recently. How did this evolution of LEDs occur? Read on to enlighten yourself about these revolutionary lights.
The discovery of the first light emitting diode by British experimenter H.J. Round dates back to 1907; however, there was no practical use for these LEDs because they were not visible light. Not until 1962 did Nick Holonyak discover the first red colored visible spectrum LED. Ten years later, the first yellow LED was invented, which shone much brighter than the red LEDs.
Array of Applications:
Once visible spectrum LEDs were discovered, people sought to find practical applications for them. Soon enough, red LEDs were being utilized in televisions, telephones, radios, wristwatches, and handheld calculators. By the 1970’s, LEDs were being used for even more functions such as road signs, medical equipment, and bar code scanners. In fact, LED lights have become so functional that even Walt Disney World’s Cinderella’s Castle is now lit by over 200,000 LEDs!
By the late 1990’s, a wide variety of LED colors were now available, including green, orange, and blue. The development of high-powered white LEDs that were ten times brighter than previous LEDs led to an increased use of LEDs as a method of illumination.
With LED lights seemingly sweeping the nation, it was only a matter of time before LEDs burst onto the Christmas light scene. By 1998, Americans were decking the halls with LED Christmas lights. As concern for the environment and the conservation of energy grew, many prominent sites turned to LEDs for their Christmas displays. In 2006, the Capitol Christmas tree was illuminated completely with LEDs. The following year the Rockefeller Center tree in NYC was lit completely with LEDs. Today, more than 22 cities worldwide have switched to LED Christmas lights for their displays, including Denver, D.C., Cincinnati, London, and Glasglow.
A Brighter Future:
As technology continues to advance, the influence of LED lights grows just the same. From their simple beginnings powering calculators to their current use in powering cities, LED lights truly have evolved. Who knows what’s in store for LED lights of the future? No doubt their future will be bright.