The Glowing Past: The History of Neon Signs

Early Days of Neon

Neon signs have been lighting up streets and businesses since the early 1900s. The concept of neon was discovered by a French scientist, Georges Claude, in 1902. Claude discovered that when an electric current was sent through neon gas, it would cause the gas to give off a bright light. The first neon sign was displayed to the public in 1912 in Paris, and it quickly spread throughout Europe and the United States.

The Glowing Past: The History of Neon Signs 1

Neon Significance in Advertising

The neon signs revolutionized the way businesses advertised their products. Neon signs became an essential marketing tool in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and shops. The bright colors and striking designs were a hit with both business owners and consumers alike. The signs were initially made of glass, bent into various shapes and letters. Today, neon signs can be made with LED and other flexible materials.

The first neon sign in the United States was displayed in Los Angeles, California, in 1923. It advertised a Packard automobile dealership. Still, neon signs didn’t become popular in America until the 1930s, when the Great Depression hit the country. Companies began using neon for advertising, making their businesses glow brightly, in the hopes of attracting new customers during tough times.

The Artistic Nature of Neon Signs

Neon signs quickly evolved into an art form, with each sign made unique to the business it represented. Neon signs became a way for business owners to represent their brands and stand out from the competition. The popularity of neon artistry peaked during the 1940s and 1950s when many iconic neon signs, like the Coca-Cola one, were created. Neon signs can be found in downtown areas of many cities, in roadside motels, and small diners, preserving history and memories.

The Future of Neon Signs

Today, neon signs are still widely used in advertising. They are a classic and timeless way to attract customers, evoke feelings of nostalgia, and stand out in a crowded marketplace. However, the production of neon signs has dwindled with the rise of LED signs and computer graphics. While many small boutique shops still use and appreciate neon, it is becoming less prevalent among larger corporations and franchises. Nevertheless, the art of neon still lives on through the few local artisans who make neon signs by hand, preserving the craft and history of neon artistry.

The Resurgence of Neon

Despite the rise of digital screens and LED signs, neon has made somewhat of a comeback in recent years. Many bars, restaurants, and shops are seeking a way to distinguish themselves from their competition. Neon signs have once again become a popular way to create an atmosphere and tell a story. Neon also fits in with current nostalgia trends and the desire to bring back the past. The uniqueness and creativity of neon signs are highly appealing for many, especially small businesses that need a way to stand out from corporate competitors. Find more details about the topic in this external resource we’ve chosen for you. Get inspired here, expand your understanding of the subject by uncovering new perspectives and insights.


In summary, neon signs may have originated over a century ago, but they still hold a special place in advertising and art. From Paris to Los Angeles, neon signs have captured the attention of millions and created a timeless legacy. Today, despite the competition of digital screens, neon signs still have a place in the marketplace. It is a classic and distinguished way to advertise and create atmosphere that stands the test of time.

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