The Invention of the Flashlight

Let There Be Light

Flashlight from 1899
1899 Eveready flashlight. CC 2.5

The flashlight was invented in 1898 (patented in 1899), and the biblical quote of "Let There Be Light" was on the cover of the 1899 Eveready catalog, advertising the new flashlight. 

Conrad Hubert - Eveready Founder

In 1888, Russian immigrant and inventor, Conrad Hubert founded the American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company (later renamed Eveready). Hubert's company manufactured and marketed battery powered novelties, for example, neck ties and flower pots that lit up. Batteries were even still a novelty at that time, only recently introduced to the consumer market.  

Who Invented The Flashlight? David Misell

A flashlight by definition is a small portable lamp usually powered by batteries. While, Conrad Hubert might have known the flashlight was a bright idea, it was not his. British inventor, David Misell who was living in New York, patented the original flashlight and sold those patent rights to the Eveready Battery Company.

Conrad Hubert first met Misell in 1897. Impressed with his work, Hubert bought all of Misell's previous patents related to lighting, bought Misell's workshop, and bought Misell's then unfinished invention, the tubular flashlight.

Misell's patent was issued on January 10, 1899. This portable light was designed in the now familiar tube-shape and used three D batteries laid out in a line, with a lightbulb at one end of the tube. 


You might be wondering why was the flashlight called a flashlight? The answer is that the first flashlights had batteries that did not last very long, providing a "flash" of light so to speak. However, Conrad Hubert continued to improve his product, making the flashlight a commercial success, Hubert a multi-millionaire, and Eveready a huge company.