Homes That Glow in the Dark (Feb, 1947)

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Homes That Glow in the Dark

Modern lighting adopts fluorescence to achieve harmony of illumination with architectural design and decor Lighting for the modern home can be beautiful as well I as scientifically correct. Fluorescent lighting makes all this possible now; and gone forever are the days when fluorescent fixtures caused kitchen, bathroom, or living room to look like a hospital.

Fluorescent lighting is only 10 years old, but it has emerged today, after intensive wartime development, as the key to a new approach to a long-range problem: how to keep America’s vision up to par.

Fluorescent lamps themselves have taken on new shapes and forms—complete circles and thin, long cylinders instead of the familiar fat tubes—but all provide illumination in the same way. Electric current applied to a mercury vapor inside the tube creates ultraviolet rays. The interior of the tube is coated with phosphors (crystals that give off visible light when exposed to invisible radiation) and the tube glows when the ultraviolet rays strike the phosphors.

Color helps make the home Fluorescent lamps provide greater color control than do filament lamps, a valuable characteristic now that color is fully recognized as an important factor in environment, daytime effects are reproduced with fluorescent lamps; materials retain their true daytime shades under their glow.

New fluorescent fixtures have been designed to harmonize with their surroundings. Whole walls are made luminous. Slender fluorescent tubes behind concealed strips keep lighting elements in scale with design and permit dramatic decorative effects. Floor and table lamps, designed to fit individual furniture groupings, combine circular fluorescent and filament lamps to provide the correct light for reading, or the subdued level that goes With polite conversation.

  1. Kosher Ham says: July 10, 201010:57 am

    I always thought that blacklights were fun! Imagine having a house interior that glowed like a Disneyland ride.

  2. Jabberwocky says: July 10, 20104:28 pm

    Having lived for some time in Japan, where the majority of lighting is fluorescent, I have to say, it does make your rooms look like a hospital. D: That flat blue light is very jarring– and God help you if one of them starts to flicker.

    I much prefer CFL’s, as at least they mimic the nice yellow tone of incandescents.

  3. Charlene says: July 10, 20104:49 pm

    Imagine a flickering fluorescent in that kitchen, with that ceiling….

  4. Myles says: July 11, 201010:59 am

    Did men really wear a full buttoned up suit to read a book in their livingroom?

  5. Arglebarglefarglegleep says: July 11, 20102:03 pm

    My first thought wasn’t fluorescent paints, it was nuclear. Radium paint anyone? [Like on the old radium dial watches]
    There’s a selection of florescent lighting colors, from very blue to pinkish depending on ‘temperature’ which is a spectrum reference not actual temperature of the bulb. This will give you an idea.…

    Florescent doesn’t have to be harsh, blue white. There’s also colored sleeves that can slide over bulbs, they’re used for red light areas on military bases and in some photography lab areas. I’ve seen them in various colors like green, blue and yellow besides red.

  6. Kosher Ham says: July 11, 20102:27 pm

    The real future is Light Emitting Diodes. Some allow you to change the color, mood lighting, on the fly. Regarding radium, I believe that it was replaced years ago with safer radioactive isotopes from other elements.

  7. jayessell says: July 11, 20102:38 pm

    Get a load of the TV in the second photo of the second page!

    It’s styled like the SciFi paraphenalia of a Republic serial!

    Not quite as fancy as the iconic Philco Predicta of 1958,
    but pretty good for 1947.

  8. jayessell says: July 11, 20102:52 pm

    There was hope for ElectroLumenescence in the 50s/60s
    but they couldn’t get white
    light or get a competative cost per Lumen.

    KH: I have several LED color controllable ‘bulbs’.
    $30 each!!!
    Think Geek.

  9. rick s. says: July 11, 20103:50 pm

    We had a Zenith round picture TV similar to the one shown on page two only ours was set in a console rather than freestanding as that one is. We bought it just about the time of that magazine issue. It was 12 inches in diameter (quite large for the time) and you could set the picture either in regular TV format, that is flat on bottom and top and rounded on the sides, or in full round format. The TV format would show everything in the picture only the image would be quite a bit smaller, whereas the full round format made the image larger to fit the whole screen but with the corners of the image clipped off. We used the round format most of the time because of the larger image. Anytime there was an image, scenic or text for instance, that we needed to see in full we’d get up and walk over to the console, set the format with the switch and go back to our seats and switch back to round after the scene changed to something we could view in round format. The same would go for changing channels or sound volume. There were no remotes, wired or otherwise. Lots of jumping up and down in those days. I notice that the image on the set in the article is in TV format. We also had a so-called “TV Light”, which was a small low wattage incandescent light in a fixture which you could hang onto the back of whatever TV set you had. It cast a soft amber light on the wall behind the TV set which made things easier on the viewer’s eyes because in those days people kept all the lights off in the room, like in a movie theater, whenever TV was being watched. That light made the room look pretty nice, something like what is shown in the room in the picture, only directed upwards rather than down. Sure brings back memories!


  10. Firebrand38 says: July 11, 20108:05 pm

    Radium paint? It was definitely replaced a while back http://www.roger-russel…

    I’m glad I looked that up, I had no idea that the trade name for the radium paint on watches and clocks between 1917 and 1938 was named Undark.

    On the link I provided clocks were manufactured with radium paint as late as 1965.

  11. Richard says: July 12, 20109:51 am

    The color photos on the first page show distinct harsh shadows cast on the wall. Note especially in the top photo the shadows of the man’s shoes and head, the table, and even the lamp that’s next to the man. That indicates that the photo was lit by a couple of very small light sources off the scene to camera right. It’s exactly the opposite of the smooth diffuse shadows you’d expect from a large fluorescent source. The later B&W photos do appear to show fluorescent lighting, but the color photos appear to have been lit with something else — perhaps flashbulbs? Early color film needed quite a bit of light.

  12. Kosher Ham says: July 12, 201010:12 am

    The LED bulbs are expensive, but in theory should never burn out and they are more efficient than florescent types.

  13. rick s. says: July 12, 20106:01 pm

    Richard, I think you’re right about the extra point source of light off to the right producing the shadows. In fact, if you look at the image of the back of the woman’s head in the mirror, you can just see at the edge of her hair what looks like a reflection of a spotlight or maybe a flash gun going off.


  14. Paul says: July 13, 20105:28 am

    All houses will glow after the atomic wars.

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