Who Invented the Flashlight?


Since time immemorial, people have been in need of a portable source of light. Different sources of light were used but weren’t very reliable as they were risky and dangerous to carry around. These include candles, torches, kerosene lamps, and oil lamps. At the end of the 19th century, the invention of incandescent electric light bulb and dry battery gave a solution for this problem. From then, many adjustments have been made to the flashlight to come up with a reliable, bright, durable, and powerful source of light.

Flashlight history: Who invented the flashlight?

The flashlight was invented in 1898. This is after the first dry cell battery was invented in 1896. This battery was an improved variant of the former version in that its electrolyte was a paste instead of liquid. As a result, it could any position and it would not break or spill with much ease. It was the ideal power source for a portable torch or flashlight.

In the year 1888, a Russian immigrant and inventor, Conrad Hubert founded the American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company, which alter came to be known as “Eveready”. The company manufactured and marketed battery powered novelties, such as flower pots that lit up. At that moment, batteries were still a novelty, and were only introduced to the consumer market recently.

Even though Conrad Hubert might have known the flashlight was a great idea, it was not his. A British inventor, David Misell who was residing in New York, patented the original flashlight and sold those patent rights to the Eveready Battery Company. These two first met in 1897. Conrad saw Misell’s work and he was greatly impressed by it. So, he went ahead and bought all of Misell’s previous patents related to lighting, purchased Misell’s workshop, and purchased Misell’s then uncompleted invention, the tubular flashlight.

In the USA, it is known as a flashlight while it is referred to as a “Torch” in the UK, and other parts of the world. Misell’s patent was then issued on January 10, 1899. This portable light was built in the now usual tube-shape and used three D batteries laid out in a line, with a light bulb at one end of the tube. The batteries powered a small incandescent electric light bulb and a simple contact switch turned light on/off.

The reason why the flashlight is referred to as “flashlight” is because the first flashlight had batteries that did not last for a very long period of time. It could only flash for a short while as they batteries weren’t durable. Also, they had to be turned off so that they could rest. The batteries were made of zinc carbon which couldn’t offer constant current for a long period of time. During these days, flashlight did not sell well due to poor batteries the carbon filament electric bulbs wasn’t that efficient. Conrad Hubert continued to improve the flashlight until it became a success.

The replacement of carbon filament with tungsten and improving of batteries brought a huge change in the world of flashlights. This enables them to replace lamps with flammable fuel. By 1922, different forms of flashlight were introduced and people had a variety to choose from. But today’s modern flashlights have even become better with the introduction of light emitting diodes. Some use incandescent bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs comprise of tungsten filament in a glass bulb in atmosphere of vacuum or of gas argon, xenon, or krypton. On the other hand, the light emitting diodes (LED) are electronics elements, semiconductors that produce light. The type of LED used in flashlights is of a white power nature. These are more efficient and durable than incandescent bulbs. That’s why they can be seen in most of the tactical and latest flashlights on the market.

With the invention of David Misell, the flashlight has turned to become a very useful tool to have with you everywhere you go. There are different sizes, brightness, cost, and types of flashlights to choose from today.



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