Thomas Edison, Christmas Lights and an American Tradition

Americans value the Christmas season. Before, people would use candles to light their places and the Christmas tree. But open flame is not exactly safe, so the need for a safer source of illumination emerged.

Did you know that Thomas Edison actually invented the first electric Christmas light display? Far from his reputation of impressing the crowd with out-of-this-world stunts and machines, he went for a more subtle and sentimental display a few days before the holiday season in 1880.

Edison strung up his incandescent light bulbs on his laboratory compound for passersby to see. His plan was to heighten the Yuletide excitement through his invention. Given his usual creative way of thinking, he decided to power the lights using a generator situated about eight miles away from the bulbs.

Unexpected Change of Plans

The original plan was to display the lights in early January of 1880. But Edison had to do it a month early because of a mistake. As part of his marketing effort, he talked about his plans to a journalist on the condition that the story would not be published until after the holidays.

As enticing as the story was at the time, the journalist sold the information for a lot of money. With the news about his lighting display now known to the public, Edison was forced to get ahead of schedule.

Marked in the History of the U.S.

With the word about his display already out, Edison could not stop people as they gathered around Menlo Park. Several New Yorkers rushed to New Jersey to witness the illumination; and that day when thousands of people flooded the streets to watch the lighting of Christmas lights soon became an American tradition.

A few years after that December night, Edison, together with one of his senior marketing staff, Edward Johnson, first placed the Christmas lights on a tree. This event also made a mark on U.S. history.

Setting up Christmas lights has been a tradition for commercial properties, from government buildings to private structures. Here at Roof to Deck Decoration, we offer commercial Christmas light installation services for businesses, including free design consultation to ensure the most suitable makeover for your workplace. Contact us now and kick off the spirit of Christmas in your town.

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