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A Blaze of Crimson Light: The Story of Neon

Curated Content, Exterior Signage, Sign Design

Neon is a dull and invisible gas until it’s trapped in a tube and zapped with electricity. Literally pulled out of thin air, neon became the bright light of the modern world, a symbol of progress, and an essential component of the electronic age.


At first glance, very little appears noble about the noble gas, neon. It’s dull and invisible and, really, quite boring — until you capture it in a tube and zap it with electricity. And then it becomes something quite magical and noble indeed. During the 20th century, lights fueled by neon and other noble gases symbolized commerce and entertainment. While many of today’s signs use LED lights to emulate the bright, cheerful iconic light of neon, it’s still used in signs that illuminate the night in cities and towns from Las Vegas to Tokyo and beyond.

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