It started out clumsy and oversized and did not attract too much attention. But in the 25 years since the “birth” of the compact fluorescent light or CFL, it has become a standard in households across North America–a fact that delights lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania to such a degree it has composed a release on the occasion of the bulb’s birthday.
“Born” on April 17, 1985 in Hannover, Germany, the original CFL was all of eight inches tall and consumed 20 watts of energy; shaped like a stick, this CFL was the screw-in, energy-saving replacement for a standard incandescent that featured an integrated electronic ballast. That design was modernized and refined, but nobody was interested, it seemed, until the turn of the millennium when energy prices got steep. Now, according to the 2009 SYLVANIA Socket Survey, more than 70 percent of American households now have at least one CFL.
“The CFL has only improved with age,” said Alfred LaSpina, Osram Sylvania marketing manager for CFLs, in a statement. “Today, the SYLVANIA Living Spaces CFL is half the size of our 1985 model, provides better light quality and lasts twice as long, while still delivering 75 percent energy savings.” No word yet on whether the company is throwing a party for the bulb.