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Pifco 1026 sunlamp
For centuries oil- and gas lamps had
been the most important sources of
artificial light when, around 1860, the first
practical usable electric lamps appeared.
The first successful attempts to produce
light by means of electricity were made
by Sir Humphry Davy at around 1805. He
succeeded in maintaining a voltaic arc
between two rods of charcoal that lasted
a few minutes. Due to the lack of reliable
sources of energy and proper material for
the carbon rods it still took half a century
before this kind of lamps became
commercially applicable. Due to its very
intense light however, this type of lamp was not very well suited for the illumination of
small rooms. Carbon arc lamps therefore were primarily used as street lights, in
lighthouses and searchlights and for the illumination of public areas and larger rooms.
A disadvantage of carbon arc lamps was the short life span of the carbon rods that
had to be replaced every few hours.
Carbon arc lamps for illumination purposes became obsolete shortly after the
introduction of the incandescent lamp although specialised carbon arc lamps as for
instance in film projectors remained operational until after WWII. The production of
sunlamps fitted with carbon arc lamps like the Pifco 1026 on display here, lasted until
the early 1970s.