On both an emotional and practical level, lighting is a very basic human need. Therefore, people want to have it when needed at all times and places. However, until the invention of the flashlight, good portable light source did not exist. A look at the history of the flashlight shows how far flashlights have come in a relatively short time.
Before there were flashlights
Since the discovery of fire, it is likely that people were looking for ways to take the lighting it provided with them. This started with torches and eventually progressed to things like candles and kerosene lights. However, there are some serious problems with these types of lighting. Fire is hot and dangerous and none of these produce a directional light. Clearly, something better was needed.
The first flashlights
While the tube, switch, bulb and batteries that most flashlights consist of may seem simple enough, the technology to make them did not come into play until the late 1800's Edison's incandescent light bulb was invented first. Later, the dry cell was invented. This made battery power flashlights practical since a dry cell will not spill and can produce power regardless of its orientation. Soon after, the D cell was invented to be used in flashlights, and the first cylindrical flashlight was patented in 1903 by a company that would eventually become Eveready.
Not surprisingly, these early flashlights were rather crude affairs nothing like what is seen today. They were often constructed partially of wood, and the first cylindrical flashlights were made with paper and fiber tubes.
The history of the word "flashlight" itself says something about the early flashlights. While most people today likely associate it with how the light comes on in a flash, these flashlights got there name because they could only light up for a short period of time.
Flashlights evolved over time to become much studier and more functional. Far from the flimsy earlier tubes, many flashlights are now constructed of anodized aluminum, Eveready aaa rechargeable batteries or lightweight and resistant to rust, or are injection molded with tough polymers.
LED bulbs are another significant improvement. With their durability and low power consumption, they make flashlights much more reliable while making it possible to use them over greater periods of time. These bulbs will also last considerably longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Finally, they emit or more directional light that is great for flashlights.
There are also much better batteries now and new ways to keep them charged. Modern batteries last longer and hold a more energy. Many flashlights now have rechargeable batteries built in. For those far from a power source, solar powered lights and those that work through some kind of cranking device are also on the market.
Then there are the many types and sizes of flashlights now available. These include lights that emit a very intense beam that is invaluable for special purposes. Headlamps make it possible to use lights hands free. Flashlights that are very small yet can emit a respectable amount of light make it easy to carry one at all times.