In 1890, Ichisuke Fujioka established Japan’s first manufacturer of incandescent light bulbs. The company, which later became part of Toshiba, went on producing light bulbs, peaking at an annual rate of 78 million in the 1970s and shipping over 4 billion bulbs in total. Until today, when it stopped.
The reason, of course, is that, along with the rest of the industry, Toshiba is concentrating on more efficient lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs offer something good for almost everyone: they use less energy so are cheaper to run and result in less carbon being poured into the atmosphere; they enable more flexible and innovative lighting applications; they are more complex than other light sources and require sophisticated control circuitry that technology companies are happy to sell; and, because the specification and integration of LED lighting systems demands electronics skills that are uncommon in traditional lighting equipment vendors, electronic component distributors are able to offer a new range of lighting services.
Although this appears to be an ideal situation there is one group that will suffer from the passing of the incandescent bulb – cartoon animators, who are scratching their heads wondering what Mickey Mouse will do now if he has an idea.