Updated 17-XI-2018

Dr. John M. Anderson

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

John M. Anderson pictured in 1982 with his Solenoidal Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamps

John M. Anderson was born in Kansas City, Missouri on October 9, 1924, being the son of Melvin and Myrtle Anderson. Local schools were attended and he completed three semesters at Kansas City Junior College before being inducted into the United States Army.

On March 12, 1943 John traded civilian clothes for Army issue. He received basic training in Field Artillery at Camp Beale, California. He then attended the Army Specialized Training Program and in August, 1944 was assigned to the Plant Engineering Agency in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This Agency, through the Army Airways Communication System, installed and maintained world-wide communications, radio aids to navigation and meteorological equipment for the Army and Air force. While he was stationed in Philadelphia Anderson taught theory and practice of radio transmitters.

On February 19, 1946, after serving his country during war time, John left the Army to attend the University of Illinois. In 1955 he earned the Ph. D. degree in Electrical Engineering from that institution. In that same year, 1955, John Anderson started employment with the General Electric Company at their Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York.

Anderson started to work on his SEF lamp as early as 1968. However, it wasn't until about 26 years later, in 1994, that the lamp was marketed. He presented a paper on the lamp at the 3rd International Symposium on the Science and Technology of Light Sources, which was held 18-21 April, 1983 at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France. A summary of his paper is reproduced in the section below.

What follows is a list of four major accomplishments by Anderson at the GE Research Laboratory:
1) Synthetic testing of high power circuit breakers and the building of test facilities for the same.
2) Measurement of over 200 lumen/watt in high pressure, electrodeless, high frequency NaI and other MH discharges.
3) Complete description of the cathode region in a fluorescent lamp using Runge-Kutta and Monte Carlo techniques.
4) Initiated work on screw-in fluorescent lamps, self-ballasted, called "SEF" while in development and known as GENURA when marketed.
Perhaps John is best known for his significant contributions toward the first commercial electrodeless induction light source that has a self-contained ballast, the Genura lamp. It is a retrofit lamp, designed to replace incandescent reflector lamps. It is more than four times as efficient as the incandescent, yielding about 50 lumens/watt. The lamp was introduced at the Hannover Fair in April of 1994. There are some websites to which one can be directed to learn more of the design characteristics 5, 6, 7.

During the years 1963-71 Anderson taught plasma measurements at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York as an adjunct associate professor. He retired from GE on April 1st 1987.

On June 16th 1950 John Anderson married Lois E. Koester and they had four children: Charles, James, Ruth and Julie. After retirement he kept busy giving talks and he also consulted and researched early radio history. He was a volunteer at the Schenectady Museum, beginning at the Hall of Electrical History, since 1986, before it merged with the Museum in 1997. He served as a Trustee of the Hall of History Foundation in Schenectady, New York.

John M. Anderson passed away on November 18, 2007.

The SEF Lamp : A Compact Energy-Efficient Replacement for the Incandescent Lamp
"Fluorescent lamp technology can give high efficacy and long life, but electrode losses are emphasized and efficacy suffers if the lamp is simply shortened to the size of the incandescent lamp in an attempt to devise a compact light source. Folding the lamp retains the ratio of column to end losses, but complete elimination of the electrodes by excitation of the plasma with a solenoidal electric field (SEF) can give a quite small toroidal plasma which efficaciously excites the phosphor. A ferrite toroid core is chosen to give tight coupling through transformer action between the electronic ballast generating 100 kHz power and the plasma as a one-turn secondary.

"A 2000 lumen lamp, 7.6 cm in diameter and 15 cm overall, with integral ballast can have more than 50 lumens per watt. Frequency of operation with presently available ferrites is 100 kHz. The ferrite is supported in the discharge space and is excited by a ten-turn primary winding, the wire of which is protected by thin glass sleeving. Narrow-line phosphors, with red and green emission, as developed by Philips Co., cover the ferrite, and the inside surface of the glass envelope. The blue emission from mercury complements the phosphor to match closely the color temperature of incandescent. The ferrite core temperature was measured at 300°C (Curie temperature ~370°C) and envelope temperature at 100°C for a lamp with 30-35 watts to the primary winding. Thus mercury pressure needs control and this was done by a Pb/Bi/Sn alloy, also described by Philips workers.

"Krypton was found to be a better choice for fill gas than argon for two reasons, its lower discharge voltage reduced ferrite core loss to ~3 watts, and its inherent "positive column" efficacy was higher at low gas pressures and high loading. We measured the positive column efficacy for a freshly-constructed lamp at about 70 lumens per watt for a rare gas pressure of 0.5 Torr. Considering ferrite core loss, light loss by attachment of lamp to ballast shell, and ballast efficiency, say 90%, an overall lamp efficacy greater than 50 lumens per watt is attainable. The lamp is dimmable, has instant start and restart and can be made in a lumens package from ~500 to 2500 lumens."

The writer is grateful to John Anderson for providing personal and professional material for the writers use; he also provided the photograph for use in this write-up.

  1. “Applicability of the Lagmuir Metallic Probe For the Study of the Ultimate Electrons of the Negative Glow Plasma,” John Anderson, Report 58-RL-2010, 1958
  2. “An Approximate Analytic Thermal Model for the 1800 Lumen SEF Lamp,” John Anderson, Report 82-CRD-063, 1982
  3. “An Approximate Solution For the Negative Solution For the Negative Glow Region in Fluorescent Lamps.” John Anderson. Report 87-CRD-187, 1987 Article Drafts, Notes, 1953-1955, undated
  4. “Characteristics of SEF Lamps Made with Small Size, High Curie Temperature Ferrite Cores,” John Anderson. Report 79-CRD-227, 1979
  5. “Cold Cathode Discharge Tubes As Ambient Light Sensors in Photocontrollers,” M.M. Osteen, John Anderson, Report MO-67-1403, 1967
  6. “Collisional-Radiative Recombination and Net Ionization in Mercury Vapor,” John Anderson, Report 85-CRD-220, 1985
  7. “Color Separation in Multi-Vapor HID Lamps Operating On “dc” Switching Type Ballasts,” John Anderson, Report MOR-73-171, 1973
  8. “Compact Fluorescent Lamps Excited By Solenodial Electric Fields,” John Anderson, Report 71-C-287, 1971
  9. “Compact, Screw in Fluorescent Lamp (SEF Lamp) For Incandescent Lamp Replacement,” John Anderson. Report 75-CRD-242, 1975
  10. “Comparison of Input Impedance to Ferrite Rod Core And Aire Core 13.56 MHZ Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamps,” John Anderson, Report 83-CRD-063, 1983
  11. “Efficacy of SEF Lamps As A Function Of Krypton or Argon Fill Pressure,” John Anderson, Report 82-CRD-050, 1982
  12. “Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamps Excited By Solenodial Radio–Frequency Fields,” John Anderson. Report 67-C-357, 1967
  13. “Electrodeless High Pressure Nal Lamps Having Efficacies Near 200 Lumens/Watt.” T.C. Andersen, John Anderson, J.T. Dakin, P.D. Johnson, T.H. Rautenberg Jr. & J.R.Young, Report 85-CRD044, 1985
  14. “Electron Drift Velocity And Hall Effect in the Low Pressure Mercury Column,” John Anderson, Report 64-RL-3675G, 1964
  15. “Electron-Ion Recombination in Low Temperature Gaseous Plasmas - A Survey of Experimental Work,” John Anderson, Report 61-RL-2817G, 1961
  16. “Elements of Optimum Coil Design For Excitation of Electrodeless Lamps,” John Anderson, Report 87-CRD-045, 1987
  17. “EMI Reduction From SEF Lamps By Use or Auxiliary Windings on the Ferrite Core,” John Anderson, Report MOR-77-047, 1977
  18. “Energy Dissipation and Potential Variation Near the Electrodes of Fluorescent Lamps,” John Anderson & J.C. Borowiec, Report 87-CRD-178, 1988
  19. “Excitation of Low Pressure, High Current Discharges in the Hg-Kr Mixtures By Solenoidal Electric Fields at 150 KHZ,” John Anderson, Report MO-71-1135, 1971 Experimental set-up used by John Anderson for his thesis work, Photographs, 1955
  20. “The Extent and Nature of Fertile Loss Degradation in SEF Lamps,” John Anderson, Report MOR-79-047, 1979
  21. “Feasibility Study of a Current Limiting Circuit Breaker Using a Vacuum Interrupter and Current Commutation,” John Anderson, Report 74-CRD-076, 1974
  22. “Gaseous Electronics,” L. Goldstein, G.L. Clark, John Anderson, Progress Reports, undated “Gaseous Electronics,” L. Goldstein, G.L. Clark, John Anderson, Progress Reports, undated
  23. “General Electric’s Century: A History of the GE Company from its Origins to 1986,” George Wise, p. 1 – 140, undated
  24. “General Electric’s Century,” George Wise, p. 141-291, undated
  25. “General Electric’s Century,” George Wise, p. 292-430, undated
  26. “General Electric’s Century,” George Wise, p. 431-542, undated
  27. “General Electric’s Century,” George Wise, index, undated
  28. “The Hall Effect and Electron Drift Velocities in the Plasma of the Positive Column,” John Anderson, Report 63-RL-3433, 1963
  29. “The Hall Effect in Fluorescent Lamps,” John Anderson, Report 63-RL-3517G, 1963
  30. “Interaction of Microwaves in Gaseous Discharge Plasmas: Application to the Study of Fundamental Processes in Gases.” John Anderson, PhD. Thesis, 1955.
  31. “Interaction of Microwaves in Gaseous Discharge Plasmas: Application to the Study of Fundamental Processes in Gases,” John Anderson, L. Goldstein, Report, 1955
  32. “Long Range Navigation,” John Anderson, The Illinois Telegraph, Article, Nov. 1946
  33. “Lumen Maintenance Experience with Compact SEF Fluorescent Lamps and the Effect of a Starting Pad on Maintenance,” John Anderson, Report 81-CRD-098, 1981
  34. “Lumen Maintenance Experience with SEF Lamps in the 3.5 Inch (8.9 cm) Diameter Conical Shape,” John Anderson, Report 79-CRD-226, 1979
  35. “Luminous Efficacy of the Litek Lamp Plasma – Phosphor System,” John Anderson, Report MOR-76-064, 1976
  36. “Matching High Frequency Cables for Total Phase Shift,” E.C. Hayden, C.T. Johnk, J.M. Anderson, Memorandum, 1951
  37. “Maximum Input Power on Efficacy of Spherical 8.9 cm (3.5 inch) Diameter SEF Lamps,” John Anderson, Report MOR-78-041, 1978
  38. “Measurement of A.C. Resistance For Selected Wire Compositions in the Range 100 KHZ to 2 MHZ,” John Anderson, Report MOR-78-032, 1978
  39. “Measurement of Zero Field Electron Thermal Emission With Application to Fluorescent Lamps,” John Anderson, Report 84-CRD-006, 1984
  40. “Performance of the Newly Developed Lithium Ferrites in Compact SEF Lamp,” John Anderson, Report 81-CRD-097, 1981
  41. “Performance Statistics of Newly Developed SEF Lamps in the 3.5 inch (8.9 cm) Conical Shape,” John Anderson, Report 80-CRD-013, 1980
  42. “A Preliminary Evaluation of Compact Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamps Operated At 13 MHZ With Air-Core Coupling,” John Anderson, Report 83-CRD-059, 1983
  43. “Primary Electron Energy Loss in the Negative Glow of A Low Pressure Arc,” John Anderson, Report 85-CRD-149, 1985
  44. “Progress Report on a Spherical Model of Low Pressure Electrode/Negative Glow Interaction with Application to the Fluorescent Lamp,” John Anderson, Report 85-CRD-055, 1985
  45. “Progress Report Summarizing Work During 1983 to Develop A Model For Electrode Operation in Fluorescent Lamps,” John Anderson, Report 84-CRD-048, 1984
  46. “Progress Report Summarizing Work to Understand and Improve F Lamp Cathodes,” John Anderson, Report 83-CRD-078, 1983
  47. “Pulse Receiver,” Memorandum, Photographs, 1952
  48. “Quenching of the Negative Glow of a D.C. Gaseous Discharge By Microwaves,” John Anderson, Memo EE-40, 1957
  49. “Radio Communications Through the Plasma Sheath Surrounding Re-Entry Vehicles,” John Anderson, Report P-264, 1961
  50. “Radio Frequency Power Loss Measurements on Certain of the New High Temperature Fertile Materials,” John Anderson, Report 76-CRD-134, 1976
  51. “Rapid Evaluation of the Fertile Materials According to R.F. Power Loss As A Function of Frequency,” John Anderson, Report MOR-75-O64, 1975
  52. “Restricted Activation of Indicator Glow Lamps,” John Anderson, Report 64-MO-0899, 1964
  53. “The SEF Lamp: A Compact, Energy Efficient Replacement For the Incandescent Lamp,” John Anderson, Report 83-CRD-039, 1983
  54. “The SEF Lamp – A High Efficacy Incandescent Replacement,” GE Electronic Power Conditioning and Control Laboratory, 1978
  55. “SEF Fluorescent Lamps Operating At Frequencies Above the Broadcast Band,” John Anderson, Report 77-CRD-021, 1977
  56. “Solenodial Electric Field Operation of High Intensity Discharges,” John Anderson, C.L. Chalek, & P.D. Johnson, Report 80-CRD-076, 1980
  57. “Survey of Available Ferrites and SEF Lamp Operation in the G24 Size at 250 KHZ,” John Anderson, Report MOR-77-053, 1977
  58. “Temperature Determination in High Pressure Sodium Discharges By Detection of RF Thermal Noise,” John Anderson, Report 74-CRD-296, 1974
  59. “Visits to European Laboratories During the Period August 28 – Sept. 20, 1961,” John Anderson, Memorandum, 1961
  60. “Volt Ampere Characteristics For Neon, Argon, Krypton Plus Mercury Discharges At 50KHZ in a T-20 Envelope,” John Anderson, Report MOR-75-046, 1975
  61. “Volt Ampere Characteristics of the Positive Column in Rare Gas/Mercury Mixtures At the Low Discharge Currents And Consequences For Ease of Starting,” John Anderson, Report MOR-75-022, 1975

  1. US 3,500,118 - Electrodeless Gaseous Electric Discharge Devices Utilizing Ferrite Cores (issued Mar 10, 1970)
  2. US 3,521,120 - High Frequency Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamp Assembly
  3. US 3,883,764 - Cathode Structure for High Current, Low Pressure Discharge Devices
  4. US 3,987,334 - Integrally Ballasted Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamp
  5. US 3,987,335 - Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamp Bulb RF Power Energized Through Magnetic Core Located Partially Within Gas Discharge Space
  6. US 4,005,330 - Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamp
  7. US 4,017,764 - Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamp Having a Radio Frequency Gas Discharge Excited by a Closed Loop Magnetic Core
  8. US 4,093,893 - Short Arc Fluorescent Lamp
  9. US 4,176,296 - Core Mounting for Solenoidal Electric Field Lamps
  10. US 4,180,763 - High Intensity Discharge Lamp Geometries
  11. US 4,187,447 - Electrodeless Fluorescent Lamp with Reduced Spurious Electromagnetic Radiation
  12. US 4,262,231 - Helical Wire Coil in Solenoidal Lamp Tip-Off Region Wetted by Alloy Forming an Amalgam with Mercury
  13. US 4,410,829 - Use of Amalgams in Solenoidal Electric Field Lamps
  14. US 4,461,970 - Shielded Hollow Cathode Electrode for Fluorescent Lamp
  15. US 4,499,400 - Use of Amalgams in Solenoidal Electric Field Lamps
  16. US 4,508,993 - Fluorescent Lamp Without Ballast
  17. US 4,523,125 - Fluorescent Lamp Electrodes
  18. US 4,528,209 - Use of Amalgams in Solenoidal Electric Field Lamps
  19. US 4,739,227 - Fluorescent Lamp Dimming Over Large Light Output Range
  20. US 4,803,404 - Envelope for Small High-Intensity-Discharge Electrodeless Arc Lamp
  21. US 4,810,938 - High Efficacy Electrodeless High Intensity Discharge lamp
  22. US 4,812,702 - Excitation Coil for HID Electrodeless Discharge Lamp
  23. US 4,910,439 - Luminaire Configuration for Electrodeless High Intensity Discharge Lamp
  24. US 4,959,584 - Luminaire for an Electrodeless High Intensity Discharge Lamp
  25. US 4,959,592 - Starting Electrodes for HID Lamps
  26. US 5,006,763 - Luminaire for an Electrodeless High Intensity Discharge Lamp with Electromagnetic Interference Shielding
  27. US 5,175,476 - Magnetically Tunable Starting Circuit for an Electrodeless High Intensity Discharge Lamp (issued Dec 29, 1992)

  1. "Operation and Efficacy Measurement of Electrodeless HID Lamps", J.M.Anderson, Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on the Science and Technology of Light Sources, Karlsruhe, Germany, April 7-10 1986 pp.99-101."
  2. Efficacy Measurements for Unconventional Fills in Electrodeless HID Lamps", J.M. Anderson & P.D. Johnson, Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on the Science and Technology of Light Sources, Karlsruhe, Germany, April 7-10 1986, pp.103-104.
  3. "Electrodeless Lamps for Lighting: A Review", D.O.Wharmby, IEE Proceedings-A, Vol 140, No 6, November 1993, pp.465-473.
  4. "Lamps and Lighting", edited by J.R.Coaton & A.M.Marsden, Edward Arnold, 4th Edition, 1997, pp.220-225.
  5. "Electrodeless Lamp", Wikipedia.
  6. "GE Genura Lamp", IAEEL Newsletter, 1994 Issue 1.
  7. "GE Genura Lamp", J.D.Hooker, Lamptech Museum of Electric Lamp Technology.
  8. "Science Reinvents the Light Bulb", J.Free, Popular Science, 1982 Apr, pp.85-87.