1203_A Century of Liquid Fire – Neon’s Bright History

This unique form of lighting made its debut 100 years ago


Neon  /ˈniːɑːn/


[Vickey & Chip]


French inventor Georges Claude displayed a new kind of lamp at the 1910 Paris Motor Show. When Claude connected two, 12-meter-long glass tubes filled with colorless neon gas to electricity, they glowed (slightly shine) with a reddish-orange color. Onlookers praised Claude’s invention, but they weren’t excited about lighting their homes with his fiery火一般的 light.

Claude’s breakthrough came after he bent his tubes into the shapes of letters and learned how to produce other colors. In 1912, the world’s first neon sign was displayed outside a Paris barbershop, and neon’s role in advertising was born.

Americans first encountered neon in 1923 when the Packard Motor Car Company in Los Angeles displayed two of Claude’s signs. Drivers stopped to gaze at the signs lit by liquid fire. By the 1930s, American companies were producing their own signs and pushing the limits of neon. In 1936, for example, the Wrigley Company erected a huge aquarium scene in Times Square that featured animated, bubble-blowing fish and used over 1,000 feet of neon tubes.

Neon’s golden age, however, didn’t arrive until the 1950s when businesses from restaurants to movie theaters were all using neon signs to lure /lʊr/ (=attract) customers. Although neon’s use has dipped since that golden age, neon districts like Las Vegas and Osaka continue to draw big crowds to this day.


[More Information]


[Ashley & Ken]

K: So, Ashley, are you planning on writing more books? I’m really enjoying the one you wrote recently.

A: Yes, I hope to write many more. I’m actually working on one right now.

K: Oh, what is it about?

A: Well, it’s about this fiery woman from the 1920s who stands up for women’s rights.

K: Uh, wait. Did you say she is fiery, as in she likes fire?

A: I said she was fiery, but that’s not what fiery means. It is an adjective describing someone who is passionate and highly emotional. And someone with a fiery temper gets angry easily. They have a short temper.

K: So, why is fiery spelled f-i-e-r-y and not f-i-r-e-y? Fire is spelled f-i-r-e.

A: Hey, that’s a good question. And I think we need to contact Linda. She may have more information.

K: Okay.


L: In today’s world it doesn’t make sense to spell fiery with the r and e switched. However, if you go back to the 12th century and days of Middle English, you will find the reason for the spelling. At that time, fire had different spellings: f-i-r-e, or f-i-e-r, or f-i-r. Once the printing press was invented the spelling fiery, f-i-e-r-y was established. If you listen to the word fire, there are two vowel sounds in the middle. Writing both of these vowels prevented the loss of that double sound. In addition, this spelling prevented the confusion with the English fir tree which is spelled f-i-r.


A: So, if it was spelled f-i-r-y, you might lose the correct pronunciation. English is full of surprises.

K: It certainly is. Well, thanks for your help. So, will you tell me more about your second book?

A: I will tell you more another time.

K: Okay.


今天的課文把霓虹燈成為fiery light,注意fiery這個字,雖然聽起來像fire,但是它的拼法是f-i-e-r-y。這是因為在12世紀的時候,fire有不同的拼法,有人拼f-i-r-e,有人拼f-i-e-r,還有人拼f-i-r。後來發明了印刷機之後,f-i-e-r-y就變成了正式的拼法。雖然fiery可以表示跟火焰有關的,但是用在人身上fiery表示易怒的、暴躁、急躁的,比如說,He has a fiery temper(他有暴躁的個性)。fiery也可以表示熱烈的、激烈的,比如說a fiery speech是一場激昂的演說。



By the 1930s, American companies were producing their own signs and pushing the limits of neon.
to push the limits      being challenge
Cancer research continues to push the limits of microbiology.
The invention of cell phones pushed the limits of wireless communication.
to push the limits      testing the ability
The training program was designed to push the limits of the athlete’s physical endurance.
The baby’s nonstop crying pushed the limits of the babysitter’s patience.


neon (n) 氖氣,

neon light 霓虹燈

The owner of the store used neon lights to light up the windows.


One of the hotel sign’s neon letters is burned out.


erect (v) 建立,樹立

A   to memorize what the brave warriors did for their country.


The Empire State Building in New York City was erected in 1931.


My father and I spent 2 hours erecting the tent.


golden age  黃金時期,全盛期

The actor looked back on his forties and fifties as his golden age in the industry.


The golden age of typewriters ended when the word processor was invented.


[Vocabulary & phrase]

neon (n) 霓虹燈

breakthrough (n) 突破

erect (v) 建造

golden age 黃金時代,鼎盛時期

lure (v) 吸引


fiery, Onlooker, burn out, erect, momument, golden age, lure, push the limits of 

本篇發表於 Studio_C 並標籤為 , , , , , , , 。將永久鏈結加入書籤。



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