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Long ago, the sun was the only source of light for the inhabitants of the Earth. 400,000 years ago Peking Man first used fire as a source of heat and light. 80,000 years ago Neanderthal Man learnt how to make fire so was not forced to keep the embers burning day and night. 40,000 years ago oil lamps were being used to provide light by which to make cave paintings.
The development of light sources is closely linked to advances in our understanding of physical processes.
Oil lamps, torches and candles were in common use right up to the 19th century. Then came gas lamps. All these lamps burned oils or gases to provide light. The smell was extremely unpleasant, and the smoke and open flames were extremely dangerous. It was not until the end of the 19th century that advances in material research (leading to the tungsten filament) enabled electric lamps to be produced in quantity. A short time later came the first discharge lamps.