The Evolution of Illuminated Signage: a Journey Through Time

Signage has a long history where the motives have been developing over time but have stayed the same. Materials, colours, technology and approaches have changed many times since the first use of illuminated signage. Today, more than ever, the business world is competitive.

With so much competition present on the market, grabbing the attention of potential customers and stand out from the crowd is more critical than before. Illuminated glass neon signs date from 1840 using gas, which started to be used massively by drug stores, retail stores, and other public shops. The evolution was followed by bulbs, neon lights and fluorescent in few decades later.


What is the History of Signage?

Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks used signs for their travels throughout their history. The Romans used sign boards for storefront signage as well as public event announcements. Roman signboards were typically built of stone or terracotta.

Since the journey to advent of signage was very long, it would take little time before someone started thinking of making a light-up sign and called it the signage. One of the most important and earliest illuminated signs is neon signage. Given the arduous task a trained artist would face creating a neon sign, all the appealing effects had to exist for businesses in the early days of neon signs commercialisation to make the effort required to produce them.


Early Beginnings of Neon Lights

Neon sign history began when neon gas was discovered in 1870. In 1898, Sir William Ramsay, a Scottish chemist and Morris Travers, a British chemologist, discovered neon when they tried the liquid air method for liquefying noble gases from air. Neon is an inert noble gas found in tiny amounts in Earth’s atmosphere. Its glow is intense when electricity passes over it. Using these discoveries, we can start developing neon illuminated sign technology. Neon signs were born at the beginning of the 20th century.

As neon signs continue to illuminate our world, they remind us of the power of light to inspire, evoke emotions, create something, and capture the essence of a bygone eraIn a world where individuality and the art form of self-expression are highly valued, custom neon signs have emerged as a shining beacon of personal style.

These tailor-made luminous artworks allow individuals, businesses, and creatives to transform their visions into tangible light-filled realities. Artists incorporate neon elements and have rediscovered the charm enduring appeal of these classic displays, recognising their historical significance and unique allure. Enthusiasts and collectors have actively sought out and restored these iconic signs, recognising them as authentic relics of a bygone era.

Mercury is used in neon sign illumination production to facilitate the generation of ultraviolet light within the various neon sign light tubes, which then interacts with phosphor coatings to produce the desired colours visible to the human eye.


The Rise of Neon Signs

In both the 1920s and 1930s, neons marked a golden age. As urban and electric development increased, signs were installed on businesses’ facades, transforming cities into bright, glowing landscapes. The captivating glow of illuminated signs provides a creative way for a business to gain customers while distinguishing itself from its competitors.

The neon signs company started to adapt to the demand for these attractive signs which became famous for the city streets. Las Vegas has become an iconic custom neon sign show town and has transformed its streets into colourful lights. Paris became the capital of neons with iconic symbols in the early and middle ages and 20th century, containing landmarks such as the famous Moulin Rouge.


Importance of Neon Signs

This resurgence of interest led neon, underscores these luminous relics’ enduring charm and cultural significance, bridging the past with the present in a captivating fusion of history and design. Moreover, over a century, neon signs have found a new life in contemporary art and design. From their humble beginnings as practical advertising tools to their current status as cultural icons, neon signs have left an indelible mark on the visual landscape of our cities.

Artists incorporate neon sign elements into their work, creating captivating art installations and sculptures that bridge the gap between traditional craftsmanship and modern aesthetics, thus paying homage to more than a century of neon history. Even today, neon signs retain their relevance in contemporary advertising and branding. Businesses recognise the power of these luminous displays to capture attention and create lasting impressions on potential customers.


Electric and Gas-powered Signs

Business signage has witnessed several important milestones throughout the Industrial Revolution. For simplicity, our order has arranged these chronologically below: Through these periods, gas power revolutionised public activity and outdoor signage.

Having more people spend time outdoors at night helped businesses advertise and attract customers all around. It resulted in more prominent, brightly lit signs, lively cities, and rapid capitalisation.


LED Technology as a Game-changer in the Industry.

In recent years, LED neon signs have emerged as a modern choice to traditional glass neon signs. With their vibrant glow and flexible interior design possibilities, LED neon signs have captured the attention of businesses, artists, and homeowners alike.

LEDs, known for their energy efficiency, durability, and versatility, began to replace traditional neon signs as a result of their lower power consumption and longer lifespan. These innovations not only provided businesses with cost-effective advertising solutions but also introduced a new dimension and diverse range of visual possibilities. LED lighting signs also have a longer lifespan, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

Hardy Signs continually improved upon early digital signage ideas led technology, creating more effective solutions. Nowadays, digital screens use high-definition displays and advanced software to display text, graphics, and video in public spaces. Digital signage screens have revolutionised the way we communicate with others.



Signage is a powerful tool to communicate information through captivating displays to consumers but also have many other benefits to bring to your business as exterior signage or interior design.

At Hardy Signs we are determined to achieve excellence in signage industry and give to clients the best they can get from signage in a business. Illuminated signs is the best possible light to use at the moment which have gone through significant changes the years due to technology.

Meanwhile our appliances, materials and approaches are updated as per latest innovations in the industry illuminated signs. Our award-winning team is there give the support you need to find the best find for the brand, in line with location, business size, values and goals to help on creation of a lasting impression.

About the company: Hardy Signs is a professional and digital signage company that designs, manufactures and installs bespoke signage products to a wide range of business sectors in the United Kingdom. The company has been awarded the manufacturer of the year in 2019 and 2020.

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