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When was the first torch invented?

When was the first torch invented?

Portable light sources have been used for thousands of year, before the battery and flashlight was invented the only type of portable light source was a fire torch ( i.e. something set alight to produce a light source). One of the most commonly known portable light sources is the Olympic flame which uses a flammable source to produce the light source.


Back in the late 1800’s people like Thomas Edison were revolutionising the use of electricity to power electric lamps for homes and businesses and they made the western world with their inventions. However portable light sources such as electric torches and flashlights did not start to appear until investors first came up with the first portable battery sources. Portable batteries were first invented in the last 1890’s and this was a critical stage in the evolution of the common flashlight, in 1898 the National Carbon Company invented and patented the D Cell battery which was a dry cell battery intended to power portable electrical devices.  Once this important milestone had been passed it gave way to the progression of the modern electrically powered torch which would need these batteries to power the lighting element.

“Conrad Hubert  from Eveready was born Akiba Horowitz in Russia in the mid 1850s. Horowitz changed his name to Conrad Hubert after moving to the United States in the late 1800s. “

In 1896, the first dry cell battery was invented. Unlike previous batteries, it used a paste electrolyte instead of a liquid. This was the first battery suitable for portable electrical devices, as it did not spill or break easily and worked in any orientation. Portable hand-held electric lights offered advantages in convenience and safety over (combustion) torches, candles and lanterns. The electric lamp was odourless, smokeless, and emitted less heat than combustion-powered lighting. It could be instantly turned on and off, and avoided fire risk.


In 1898 the first portable electric torch was patented by a Mr Hubert, who promoted the product under the Ever Ready brand, the invention was soon to become commonly revered to as a flashlight because the batteries had a short life span causing the light to flash. Over the years Hubert, who was a Russian immigrant to the USA constantly improved the product and it became more reliable and demand grew for this novel portable light source, and in 1906 he started to promote the product under the brand name Eveready, which many people know today.


Early portable electric torches used inefficient filaments and batteries and were not initially popular with consumers, as they used crude carbon filament bulbs and crude dry battery cells. In the 1906 saw the development of more reliable tungsten bulb filaments which made torches more reliable and brighter, and with developments in batteries this combined to increase the popularity in flashlights at the time. Many consumers bought these devices as a handy and portable light source, the increasing reliability and sales saw companies like Eveready thrive and grown in the early 1900’s, as well as the big increase in other torch manufacturers coming to the market.

Invention of LED Flashlights

Not much changed for nearly 90 years until a few companies invented a different light bulb for torches, these LED bulbs have revolutionised torches and since the LED bulb was invented the torches are more power efficient, reliable and long lasting which has made a big impact on the market and has now virtually wiped out sales of the original incandescent bulb flashlights.