Light in living rooms is an ancient and basic need.
Yet, filling this need reflects the long and shifting trials of society, business and the environment.
In times past, cave dwellers filled their rooms with wood smoke. Today’s fluorescent light bulbs utilize mercury.
The story line from then to now is a mini-history of the human race.
The oil lamp, teaching of smoke and smells, was a new thing in 4500 BC. By 3000 BC, the candle was the latest and best.
Candles use consumable wicks to control the rate that fuel is burned and thus control how much light is produced and for how long. Candles even tell time.
As seen in many fields down through history, inventions in lighting came at a quickening pace. Is this effect driven by world population?
A larger population brings with it more inventors and more demands for products. The world population in 4500 BC is estimated at six million, roughly like today’s Dallas-Fort Worth. By 1800, world population was near one billion.
For more than 5,000 years, living rooms were lit by improved designs and better fuels for lamps, candles and fireplaces.
We pick up the story again in early America, in the bloom of revolution.