Now You Know

Let There Be (Christmas) Lights!

Thomas Edison perfected the incandescent light bulb, and his innovation lit the way for his business partner’s more colorful creation:
Christmas tree lights.

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‘Tis The Season For Lights

Shortly after presenting his electric incandescent bulbs, Thomas Edison adorned his lab with a strands of lights during the Christmas season.

In 1882, his partner, looking for a safer alternative to the open flames of lit candles, built his own set of electric lights for his Christmas tree – but due to concerns about cost & safety, it took years for the trend to spread.

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Lighting The Way Forward

  • 1882: Edward Johnson, Edison’s partner, decorated his Christmas tree with a strand of 80 red, white and blue electric lights.
  • 1895: The White House tree used electric lights for the first time.
  • 1903: Ready-to-use Christmas light sets first went on sale (est. cost $350 in today’s dollars).
  • 1930s: X-mas light sets became widely available.
Now You Know

Today, it's estimated that over 150 million sets of lights are sold each year as part of the $230+ average spent by each American on decorations and other non-gift holiday items. Take a peek at *what many believe* is the first photo of a White House Christmas tree with lights on our source page.

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