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Neon (Ne) - a brief history
10 May 2019
by Hannah Duckett

Let’s go to the way way back, to the late 1600's.

French astronomer Jean Picard first accurately measured the length of a degree of a meridian (longitude line) and from that calculated the size of the Earth. Clever guy. In 1675, while in his lab, he observed a faint glow in a mercury barometer tube. After giving the tube a little shake , a low glow of barometric light occurred. The cause of the glow; static electricity, hadn’t been discovered yet but started the path towards the discovery of electrical charge on gas producing light.


Between 1894 and 1898, William Ramsay & Morris W. Travers discovered neon, argon and xenon gases and the were added to the periodic table. The put a high voltage charge through a glass tube filled with argon and were suprised to see a bright coloured reaction however quickly moved on to other area lamp at a time when neon was a very rare naturally created gas. They moved on to other experiments and did not see the benefit of the light.

Frenchman and catalogue poser extraordinaire Georges Claude then battled it out with Daniel McFarlan Moore of GE to make and bring to market the first neon lamps. They both applied an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas to create the first neon lit lamp. Dubbed “liquid fire” neon gas glows bright red. Almost every color other than red is produced using Argon (Ar) , the other main player in the tube lighting world.


Neon signs are made from glass tubes carefully, skillfully and hand blown and manipulated into shapes (basically over a giant bunsen burner). Once the required shape or letter is achieved, the tubes are then pumped, cleaned and vacuum-sealed with Neon, Argon or Xenon gas pumped insitde. They are then calibrated and plugged into a transformer that provides the correct electrical voltage for the activation of electrons moving along the gas, creating illumination.


Used widely in popular culture since the 1960's, Hollywood, Las Vegas, retail, seaside attractions and films and TV shows embraced and experimented with the use of Neon signs creating eye catching and beautiful lighting that stood out from most.

Now it can be seen in every city and at art installations in capitals all around the world. Real glass Neon lights the way with its vibrancy and mix of retro charm and futuristic tastes. Each sign is true hand crafted art, beautifully and traditionally made b y highly skilled professionals. You can't buy that off Amazon!


We at Sly fox , can bring your visions to life & flip the switch on your visions for your business. Having 2 years experience designing and manufacturing neon signs for artists, music artists, high end retail and fashion, we can turn anything from your own handwriting to your company logo into a truly awesome sign. You won't regret it! Trust us!