Neon signs are electric signs lighted by long luminous gas-discharge tubes that contain rarefied neon or other gases. They are most commonly used for neon lighting which began in 1907 when a French businessman by the name of Georges Claude. He found a cheaper way to isolate neon and began mass producing neon lights, first showing them off at the 1910 Paris Motor Show.
Neon lights gained popularity in the United States in 1920-1960. Beer companies produced a seemingly endless supply of signs to hang in watering holes to entice customers to order a Pabst over a Budweiser, a Schlitz over a Miller.
Neon tube signs are produced by the craft of bending glass tubing into shapes. A worker skilled in this craft is known as a glass bender, neon bender or tube bender. The neon tube is made out of 4 or 5-foot long straight sticks of hollow glass sold by sign suppliers to neon shops worldwide, where they are manually assembled into individual custom designed and fabricated lamps.
It is the wide range of colors and the ability to make a tube that can last for years or decades without replacement that makes this an art. Neon signs made in the USA can last up to 15 to 20 years with care.
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