"Knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world"
Louis Pasteur, scientist
Before the invention of the torch or flashlight, it was impossible for children to experience the guilty pleasure of staying up late at night reading a book under the covers. It began life as the idea of Joshua Lionel Cowen, who wanted to make flowerpots light up as a decorative gimmick. He sold his company (and his idea) to Conrad Hubert (1856-1928), a manufacturer of Christmas lights and other electric novelties.
Hubert decided to reinvent Cowen's light without the flowerpot. One of his shop workers, British inventor David Misell came up with a basic tube made from paper and other fibers, complete with a bulb and reflector in 1898. In an astute marketing move, New York's policemen were given the flashlights to try out, and soon everyone wanted one. Hubert's company became Eveready and its catalog pictured the new flashlight alongside the words "Let there be light."
Despite weak early batteries and inefficient carbon filament bulbs, the new flashlights were popular. In 1910 tungsten filament bulbs vastly improved the brightness and power usage of flashlights, and this technology dominated the market for more than fifty years. Fluorescent bulbs were introduced in 1968, followed by halogen bulbs in 1984. Today the best bulbs are highly efficient white LEDs, which can shine for up to thirty-five hours on one set of batteries.