Of course, at this point in time, the trend had traveled around the world. America took the European tradition of hanging lights on trees and turned it into an opportunity of technological innovation (and profit).


1990s to today: America deals with the hangover

After so many decades of pumping electricity into tiny lights to make our Christmas trees pretty, Americans started to catch on to the potentially damaging effects of such consumption. The first fully programmable lighting system was patented in 1995, making it easier to control light displays and conserve energy.

The latest innovations have less to do with getting incandescent bulbs to do new things than with getting rid of them altogether. Suburban America is now hungry for long-lasting, energy-conserving LED lights. Meanwhile, they’re coming up with all kinds of creative ways to recycle those old incandescents. Because once we get good at inventing something, we get better at making it cheap and disposable. Eventually, we make something better and throw the old things away. But hey, in America, we even throw things away with pride these days.


GIF by Jim Cooke