Happy Birthday, James Watt (and JimOnLight)!

WHOA!  No way.  It’s January 19 again, and that means that it is the birthday time celebration for good ol’ James Jim-Jim-Jimmy-Jarooni Watt, the man we have to thank for several different and awesome inventions like the steam engine and the first copy machine.  Yeah, that’s right.  He’s awesome — or at least was while he was alive!


Check out a post I wrote about the Amazing James Watt over here at…  uh… on, uh, JimOnLight!

Also, also, how about a FREE KINDLE BOOK about James Watt, written by Andrew Carnegie?!  Everyone likes free, it’s a proven fact — now tie FREE and LEARNING and you’re on fire!!!

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Watt!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson!



What the what?!  That’s William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, the guy who invented the Kinetoscope, among other completely awesome stuff!  Today is Billy Boy’s birthday!  Happy Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson!

Dickson was one of Edison’s “muckers,” the guys who did all of Edison’s work for him.  What a d-bag he was, that Edison!

Check out the Happy Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson Official Birthday Post!


Happy Birthday, George Izenour!

Who’s that guy?!  Wait — is that George C. Izenour?  HEY!  Happy Birthday, George Izenour!  Today is the celebration of George’s 101st birthday!



If you don’t know who this man is and the legacy he left behind in 2007 when he passed away (July 24, 1912 – March 24, 2007), you need to do some research.  George Izenour is one of our industry’s most prolific inventor/designers, and we have many theatres and theatre complexes across the country because of that man’s brain.  George here was the winner of the 2004 Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award for his life’s work; the industry considers him one of the most important people in our business, and many consider him the Father of Modern Stage Lighting.  He’s earned the title!

Mr. Izenour recalled, back in his living days:  “I was born in a little town in the Beaver valley of Pennsylvania about 30 miles west of Pittsburgh; New Brighton. My father was a small electrical contractor. We moved in the third year of World War I to Ambridge, a company town closer to Pittsburgh adjacent to the Conway railway yards in 1917. In 1918, the last year of the war my father moved us to Mansfield, Ohio. I was six years old at the time and I started my formal schooling there.”

From an article at Live Design Online:

One of the most important figures in the lighting industry, George C. Izenour wrote his Master’s thesis on what was to become his first invention: the electronic lighting control system for theatre. His first job was as lighting director for the Los Angeles Federal Theatre Project. When that was dissolved in 1939, he was made a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation with the mandate to establish a laboratory dedicated to the advancement of theatre technology. This was established at Yale University and became the home base for Izenour’s long career as inventor, consultant, acoustician, professor, and author (Theatre Design 1977, Theater Technology 1988, Roofed Theaters of Classical Antiquity 1992).

His most important invention was the inverse polarized rectifier circuit for dimming and switching. After working in a war research laboratory during WWII, he completed a lighting system that was patented by Century Lighting, ushering in the modern era of stage and television lighting. In the late 1950s he consulted on Harvard’s Loeb Drama Center, the first of over 100 performing arts venues in his prolific theatre consulting career. He has been a member of numerous professional organizations and received numerous awards during the 65 years of his ongoing career.

Mr. Izenour has several patents on file with the United States Patent Office — many of these are monumental changes to the way things were done at the time, including one of my favorites, a Filtered Thyratron Control circuit:



An interesting turn in his career, Izenour also worked as a government scientist in World War II, creating proximity fuses for the military in a laboratory on Long Island:



I find it exemplary that Izenour worked at the time for the US government; it’s a shame that it was making weapons.  He certainly made up for that in the remainder of his life, creating some unbelievably beautiful and functional theatre buildings and complexes.  From an article at Penn State, where several of Izenour’s blueprints and mylars are currently kept:

In the laboratory, Izenour focused on developing a practical, moderately priced, remote electronic stage lighting intensity control system; he succeeded with an electronic console system for stage lighting (the world’s first practical all-electronic switching and dimming circuit) in 1947. In May 1949 he was granted patents that protected both the electronic circuitry of the system and the mechanical design of the controls. Rather than selling the patents, he negotiated an exclusive commercial license to build and exploit commercially the electronic lighting intensity control system with Century Lighting Inc. and its executive vice president Ed Kook. Izenour became Century’s field engineer as well as its systems designer. Black-and-white network television opened up opportunities for expansion in 1951 and Century negotiated for the Century-Izenour (C-I) system to be the approved method of lighting control for CBS and NBC productions. During the winter and early spring of 1948 Izenour designed and fabricated the first working scale model of the synchronous winch system, patented in 1959.

By the end of the 1950s Izenour added theater design and engineering consultant to his credentials. He participated as theater design-engineering and/or acoustical consultant in more than 100 buildings. He designed and built stage machinery for the Dallas, Texas theater center, 1959; Loeb Drama Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1960; drama center, University of South Florida, Tampa, 1961; and other multiple-use theater buildings.Izenour has published three books, Theater Design (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1977; reprint, Yale University Press, 1996), Theater Technology (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988; reprint, Yale University Press, 1996), and Roofed Theaters of Classical Antiquity (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992).

To explain complex spatial relationships, Izenour and his draftsmen/graphic artists decided upon the longitudinal perspective section to capture the ambience of both stage and auditorium during performance, and orthographic isometric for structure and machinery. The Izenour Drawings of the Theater, an organized collection, came to the attention of the U.S. Information Service (USIS), the cultural branch of the Department of State. The USIS assembled a traveling exhibition of 100 of the drawings for showing throughout the world; the world premiere was held at the American Academy in Rome on 22 April 1977.

Happy Birthday, George!  Thanks for contributing such an immense amount of brainpower to our industry to make it as awesome as it is today.

Check out some of George Izenour’s texts — I highly recommend it, you’ll come away from the books having seen inside the brain of a true technological genius!

Theater Design: Second Edition- George C. Izenour


Theater Technology: Second Edition – George Izenour


Roofed Theaters of Classical Antiquity — George Izenour


Innovations in Stage and Theatre Design — George Izenour


Something else that is pretty cool to check out is some of George Izenour’s patents, from Google Patents (which is an AMAZING time waster if you’re bored!).  I highly recommend it!

Happy 101st birthday, Georgie!



Who is THAT?!  Wait, is that — is that Nikola Tesla?!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nikola Tesla!



Well, it’s birthday time for one of the most prolific inventory of humanity — Nikola Tesla’s 207th birthday is today (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943)!  If he was still alive, I would definitely suggest we have a Tweet-up and buy that man a round!  A man who thought all human beings should have free energy, believed in the power of peace, and created more useful inventions than most people alive today — Nikola Tesla is one historical badass.  He also got legally fornicated by Thomas Edison, which is another post altogether, but still managed to do unbelievable work on alternating current electricity.



We here at JimOnLight want to share your amazingness with the world:

The History of Nikola Tesla – a Short Story from Jeremiah Warren on Vimeo.

Also — from The OatmealMAD PROPS to our man Nikola Tesla!  I cross-post this with every positive intention possible:

nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-1 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-2 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-3 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-4 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-5 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-6 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-7 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-8 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-9 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-10

We celebrate your life here at — and here’s a toast to hoping someone makes your dreams of free energy generating devices and perpetual motion systems a reality!



Passing Through from Olafur Haraldsson on Vimeo.

Tesla’s obituary:



Thanks to The Oatmeal, Wikipedia, The Daily Kos, EEP, and Brad DeLong!

It’s James Clerk Maxwell’s Birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, James Clerk Maxwell!!!


There’s a guy we all have everything to thank for, and his name was Maxwell…  JAMES CLERK MAXWELL, to be precise!  Today is the birthday of Mr. James Clerk Maxwell, the man who pretty much discovered the laws that drive our physical universe.  When we talk about “let there be light,” we’re talking about Mr. Maxwell.

I wrote a post on Maxwell’s accomplishments, check it out — and Happy Birthday, James Clerk Maxwell!!!  If you weren’t already dead, you’d more than likely have a different hairdo today:



But then again maybe not, the hipster/Steampunk thing seems to be working for you.


The Daily Lamp for My Birthday Girl – Arik Levy’s Wireflow is Actually Distilled Freaking Genius

I found the coolest Daily Lamp for today, since it’s Laura’s birthday and she is my world.  Check this out, when I saw this I had an audible “awesome” come out:


These are the braingasm of Arik Levy, who’s been on JimOnLight before with his WellofLife series.  He’s awesome.  So are these lamps, which he calls Wireflow.  There’s quite the series on Arik’s website, you must check them out.  Here’s some of my favorites:





The series was made for Vibia — from an awesome post at DesignBoom:

‘wireflow’ explores geometries in two and three dimensions through a series of pendant lighting fixtures which are composed of simple elements, whereby from certain angles they appear flat, like a line drawing suspended in the air.  designed by arik levy, the structures are formed by thin rods which end with LED terminals (3W) for illumination, continuing the visual fluidity of the lines. produced by spanish company VIBIA, ‘wireflow’ explores presence and absence, transparency and luminosity, light and fluidity.



Look at that smile on Arik’s face!  HE KNOWS he’s genius!  GAA!


Happy Birthday, Jim!

Say it with me everybody…Happy Birthday, Jim! That’s for two guys I work with daily – James Watt and our very own Jim Hutchison! Okay, I don’t physically work with Mr. Watt, but you get what I mean, right?

Jim has written an article previously about James Watt. You should certainly (re)read it since all of us should understand the background of which our entire industry measures power. Check out the Wikipedia article on the unit of watt if you need a refresher.

Here are a few events that occurred on this day:
1736 – James Watt, Scottish inventor, was born.
1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.
1915 – George Claude, of Paris, France, patented the neon discharge tube for use in advertising signs.

Thanks to Wikipedia and the rest of the non-censored interwebs for keeping documentation on our history available!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Benjamin Franklin!

What?!  It’s that time of year again, it’s the time to scream HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEN FRANKLIN!  Nevermind the fact that he’s dead, he was one cool mopho, and should be celebrated.

When people all across Ben Franklin’s close-minded little world said to him, BEN!  PLEASE don’t tie a key to a kite and fly it in a rainstorm, GOD will smite you, Ben Franklin just said hey f*ck you, I’m about to prove some serious scientific sh*t here.  

It was serious.  It was scientific.  AND, he was a LADIES’ MAN, all the same!  Check out my original HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN post!

Thanks, Motifake!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Stephen Hawking!!!

WHOA!  I can’t believe I almost missed this – dude!  Stephen!  Mr. Hawking!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, man!

We here at really respect your work – and hearing that you weren’t feeling well on your birthday sucks, brother, as we’re sorry to hear of it.  I usually end up feeling like the poops the day AFTER my birthday for obvious reasons, but then again I only pretend to have as much use of my brain matter as you do, sir.  One thing is for certain – and a whole bunch of people across the world think that you are one cool guy, and if I could buy you a pint right now, I’d be doing it!

Feel better tomorrow, which in your part of the world is in just a few hours.  Here in Central Time, we’re still shouting our HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEPHEN HAWKING chant!

If you *really* don’t know who Stephen Hawking is, I think you need to take a few minutes to look at some stuff:

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hawking, one last time for tonight!  I wish you were doing this instead of being sick:

photo credit:  1, 2