Updated 24-XII-2018

Edward E. Hammer

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.

Ed Hammer shown with his first compact fluorescent lamp of 1976

Edward Eugene Hammer was born in Brooklyn, New York on 27 December 19317. He earned a B.S. degree in Physics from Manhattan College in 1954. He started to work for the General Electric Company in 1956 as a field engineer, and then began his career in lighting at Nela Park in 1957. Hammer continued in the lighting business at the same location until the year 2001, when he retired from the General Electric Company. He continues to be involved with lighting questions by serving as a consultant to lamp companies. He has maintained an interest in reducing the power requirements of lamp operation, through design, since the year 1973.

Ed was a prolific technical author, having published over 40 technical papers13. Contributions by Hammer to the lamp business have been recognized in several ways, some of which are listed below7,13:

Awarded the GE Steuben Glass Replica Award (1975)
Fellow of the IESNA (1988)
Fellow of the IEEE (1992), for the development of advanced energy-efficient fluorescent lighting systems
IEEE Life Fellow Member
Distinguished Lecturer for IEEE (1996-1997)
LC certified in lighting (1998)
IEEE Edison Gold Metal (2002)
Known as the "Father of Fluorescent Signature Analysis"
Prize papers presented for IEEE/IAS
Ed Hammer and his wife, Gertrude E., reside in Mayfield Village, Ohio, an eastern suburb of Cleveland. They are the parents of one son and the grandparents of three.

Perhaps his most famous accomplishment was the development of the first compact fluorescent lamp in 1976, based on a helically spiralled glass tube. Despite this early invention, the concept had to wait many more years for advances in manufacturing processes, before it could be put into productio, as detailed in the section below.

Development of the Helical Compact Fluorescent Lamp
The world has witnessed remarkable progress in the development of electrical light sources. Since the year 1880 the main source of lighting in the home has been the incandescent lamp, which is commonly referred to as a light bulb. Marked improvements were made when the filament material was changed from carbon to tungsten and the lamp interior changed from vacuum to an inert gas filling. However, it appeared that significant improvement in the lamp might not be achievable after about the year 1959 when the vertically oriented filament was introduced. Although the halogen lamp was introduced as well as the halogen lamp with an infrared coating on the bulb, these products did not make a serious inroad into the replacement of incandescent lamps in the home. It took a global shakeup regarding energy availability and cost to result in the next lamp type to be used in the home.

The oil embargo of 1973-1974 prompted some effort to achieve higher efficacy in light sources. In addition, the melting of the polar ice caps has, at last, convinced most people that serious conservation measures need to be taken in the utilization of limited fossil fuels.

One person who could see the need for change was Edward E. Hammer, a lamp engineer in the Fluorescent Engineering Department of the General Electric Company at the Lighting Business Headquarters at Nela Park in East Cleveland, Ohio. Early in his career Hammer worked directly under Richard Thayer3,4 (1907-1992), a pioneer in fluorecent lamp development, as well as alongside Eugene Lemmers5 (1907-1992) and John Aicher6 (1912-1993), also fluorescent lamp pioneers. Hammer served as group coordinator for several successful energy saving projects, such as the F-40 Watt Miser lamp, which consisted of the standard linear four-foot T12 bulb (1.5 inches in diameter). Hammer was interested in determining if he could develop a fluorescent lamp that might replace the incandescent light bulbs used in portable lamps, for example. Any such design had constraints that could result in failure. For example, a design would require a glass tube that had to have considerable length. The coiling of the tubing into a helical, or spiral, shape seemed to be a reasonable approach to the problem. However, it took considerable talent on the part of the glass worker in the model shop to confine the tubing to the space desired. Nevertheless, Hammer was successful in his design attempts. However, the idea of manufacturing a helical fluorescent tubing lamp had to be approved by management.

It was decided by management not to pursue the manufacture of the helical tube fluoresecnt lamp. The manufacturing setup cost would have been in the millions of dollars7 and such a cost at that time was not desirable. In part this was due to the fact that the manufacture of a tube into that shape seemed to be quite a challenge. The lamp itself was to be kept proprietary and so Hammer did not apply for a patent on it. However, in hind sight that might have been a mistake. Lamps displaying the helical tubing were visible in Hammer's laboratory and it is believed that a visitor to Nela Park saw the lamp prototypes and carried this information back to a rival company - even though confidentiality agreements should have prevented this from happening.

Hammer's work with the helical lamp occurred in the 1975-6 time frame. In 1992 GE did build a machine and showed the new "Heliax" compact fluorescent lamps at the World Light Fair in Hannover, but the lamp did not go into mass production because of difficulty in controlling the process8.

The 1976 lamp prototype utilizing the helical glass tubing is shown with Hammer's photograph above. A similar Hammer helix is now on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. and is shown below9. The Smithsonian lamp identification is: S.I. image #lar2-2d1.

Ed Hammer's helical compact fluorescent lamp of 19769

Let us take a look backward to the 28th of March 1980, when the Philips Company introduced the first marketed non-helical compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) at a press conferences in Amsterdam and New York10. It was known as the SL18 compact fluorescent lamp2. The tubing consisted of a single long length triple-bent into a hook shape. The lamp employed a magnetic ballast, which made the unit rather heavy.

About 1995, Shanghai Xiangshan, a Chinese firm, was the first to form the helical coil and achieve success in the marketplace8. Apparently a large number of glass blowers were employed to produce the helices. This approach to the manufacturing problem was possible because of the lower labor rates in China.

Other companies, including General Electric, were finally able to develop workable machinery and in 1995 finally introduced the Heliax lamp to market - in the form of a high power compact fluorescent retrofit for 150W incandescent lamps. However the lamp proved expensive, and was soon replaced by a more cost-competitive hand-made equivalent from a Chinese supplier.

In the mid 1990s a company known as Technical Consumer Products (TCP), which is located in Aurora, Ohio, started to make the helical tubing required in the lamp and the product proved successful. In the year 2006 improvements were made and the TCP daily output is now about 1.5 million lamps7.

Two samples of General Electric helical lamps are shown below. Comparison of size is made with a standard 60-watt light bulb.

- General Electric Lamps -
Left: 13 watts, 825 lumens; 8000 hours life
Center: Standard light bulb, 60 watts, 825 lumens, 1000 hous life, Maximum bulb diameter=2 3/8 inches
Right: 26 watts, 1750 lumens, 8000 hours life (light output eqivalent to 100-watt incandescent light bulb)

The writer speculates that after the new President-Elect is sworn in on January 20, 2009, an analysis of the lighting in the White House will take place if such has not already been performed. In the year 1933 President Roosevelt asked Matthew Luckiesh, then an employee of GE at Nela Park, to evaluate the lighting in the White House1. In that case the light levels were increased by a factor of 25 to 50. In the present case, assuming that light levels are adequate, a need for power reduction would be desirable, without a reduction in the light levels. If more efficient lamps are able to be utilized, it is certainly possible that helical compact fluorescent lamps would be part of the solution.

The writer is grateful to Ed Hammer for sharing some of his biographical information for use in this write-up. Ed is a determined worker and the results of his efforts now benefit all of us. One can begin to understand the importance of his work when the variety of available compact lamps are seen20.

US Patents
Item Patent No. Issue Date Description Co-Inventor(s)
1.US 3,453,4701 Jul 1969Jacketed Fluorescent Lamp Utilizing Standard Base Plus Spacer and Wind Cap-----
2.3,886,39627 May 1975Fluorescent Lamp with Protective CoatingEdward E Kaduk
3.3,890,53017 Jun 1975Precoat for Fluorescent LampWilliam C Martyny
4.3,995,19130 Nov 1976Reprographic Fluorescent Lamp Having Improved Reflector LayerEdward E Kaduk
5.3,995,19230 Nov 1976Reprographic Fluorescent Lamp with Improved Reflector Layer------
6.4,185,23322 Jan 1980High Efficiency Ballast System for Gaseous Discharge LampsEugene Lemmers; DavidH Riesland
7.4,316,12116 Feb 1982Integrally Ballasted Fluorescent Lamp UnitEugene Lemmers
8.4,321,50223 Mar 1982U-Shaped Discharge Lamp With Starting AidEugene Lemmers
9.4,388,56414 Jun 1983Energy Saving Fluorescent Lamp Circuit------
10.4,399,39116 Aug 1983Circuit for Starting and Operating Fluorescent LampsEugene Lemmers; Dail L Swanson
11.4,422,01020 Dec 1983Shaped Discharge Lamp With Starting Aid------
12.4,425,53010 Jan 1984Time Delay Lamp Ballast CircuitEugene Lemmers
13.4,463,28031 Jul 1984Shaped Discharge Lamp With Starting AidCharles E Beck
14.4,467,24721 Aug 1984High Frequency Fluorescent Lamp Circuit------
15.4,468,59128 Aug 1984Shaped Discharge Lamp With Starting Aid and Starting StripCharles E Beck
16.4,513,22523 Apr 1985Fluorescent Lamp Series SystemAlfred E Lemmers
17.4,523,12611 Jun 1985Shaped Discharge Lamp With Starting AidCharles E Beck
18.RE31,97013 Aug 1985High Efficiency Ballast System for Gaseous Discharge LampsEugene Lemmers; David H Riesland
19.4,562,38131 Dec 1985Starting Circuit for Multiple Fluorescent LampsEugene Lemmers
20.4,644,22717 Feb 1987Three Lamp BallastEugene Lemmers; Dail L Swanson
21.4,698,5496 Oct 1987D. C. Lamp Discharge Gas Pumping ControlEugene Lemmers
22.4,900,98613 Feb 1990Ballast Circuit for Starting Fluorescent LampsEugene Lemmers
23.4,914,3543 Apr 1990Reactor-Type Ballast CircuitEugene Lemmers
24.5,350,97227 Sep 1994UV Absorbing Lamp GlassGerald L Bucher; Christopher H Welker; Curtis E Scott; Thomas F Soules
25.5,506,4749 Apr 1996Compact Fluorescent Lamp Using a Light Reflecting Adhesive MaterialVito J Arsena; Ferenc Lantos; Elizabeth Cserteg
26.5,592,0547 Jan 1997Fluorescent Lamp Ballast With Selectable Power LevelsLouis R Nerone; Maria Sanchez
27.6,051,93018 Apr 2000Extended Wire Connector for Starting Compact Fluorescent Lamp SystemAlvin A Bush
28.6,064,15216 May 2000Electrically Conductive Cylinder for Improved Starting of Compact Fluorescent Lamp SystemsAlvin A Bush
29.6,118,21712 Sep 2000Additional Electrode for Three-Level Output and Improved Starting of Compact Fluorescent Lamp SystemsMichael M Minarczyk
30.6,140,75131 Oct 2000Electrolytic Capacitor Heat SinkAlvin A Bush
31.6,157,1345 Dec 2000Lead Wires for Improved Starting of Compact Fluorescent Lamp Systems------
32.200218596212 Dec 2002Low-Wattage Fluorescent Lamp------
33.6,650,04218 Nov 2003Low-Wattage Fluorescent Lamp------
34.6,841,93911 Jan 2005Fluorescent LampCurtis E. Scott; Judith A. Scott; Jon B Jansma
35.200622678112 Oct 2006Energy Efficient Fluorescent Lamp Having an Improved Starting Assembly and Preferred Method for ManufacturingGary R Allen; Wiiliam W Beers; Matthew Pierce; Evan Karrs

Canadian Patents
Item Patent No. Issue Date Description Co-Inventor(s)
1.CA 86909520 Apr 1971Jacketed Discharge Lamp-----
2.98898711 May 1976Vapor Discharge Lamp Electrode Having Carbon-Coated AreasJohn Paynter Jr
3.100057130 Nov 1976Surface Treatment of Fluorescent Lamp Bulbs and Other Glass ObjectsWilliam C Martyny
4.101031717 May 1977Inside Bulb Coating for Ultraviolet Lamp------
5.112948410 Aug 1982High Efficiency Ballast System for Gaseous Discharge LampsEugene Lemmers; David H Riesland
6.118913318 Jun 1985Circuit for Starting and Operating Fluorescent LampsEugene Lemmers; Dail L Swanson
7.119815317 Dec 1985High Frequency Fluorescent Lamp Circuit------
8.119815417 Dec 1985Shaped Discharge Lamp With Starting Aid------
9.122912710 Nov 1987D. C. Lamp DischargeGas Pumping ControlEugene Lemmers
10.212238826 Nov 1994UV Absorbing Lamp GlassGerald L Bucher; Christopher H Welker; Curtis E Scott; Thomas F Soules
11.212950011 Feb 1995Multi-Array Twin Tube LampsEdward M Yandek
12.21304231 Mar 1995Electronic Quad Ballast With Improved Hot Restart------

Japanese Patent
Item Patent No. Issue Date Description Co-Inventor(s)
1.JP 200333178621 Nov 2003Fluorescent LampCurtis E Scott; Jon B Jansma

Chinese Patent
Item Patent No. Issue Date Description Co-Inventor(s)
1.CN 109870415 Feb 1995UV Absorbing Lamp GlassGerald L Bucher; Christopher H. Welker

References & Bibligraphy
  1. A Man from Maquoketa - A Biography of Matthew Luckiesh, Edward J Covington, Printed by Graphic Communications Operation, GE Lighting, Nela Park, E Cleveland, Ohio, 1992, pp.94-95.
  2. Lengthening the Day - A History of Lighting Technology, Brian Bowers, Oxford University Press, NY, 1998, pp.190-191.
  3. http://home.frognet.net/~ejcov/ch31.html The GE Fluorescent Lamp Pioneers
  4. http://home.frognet.net/~ejcov/thayer.html The Story Behind This Account of Fluorescent Lamp Develeopment
  5. http://home.frognet.net/~ejcov/aelemmers.html The Lamp Career of A. Eugene Lemmers
  6. http://home.frognet.net/~ejcov/aicher.html John O. Aicher
  7. Private communication from Ed Hammer
  8. http://www.lamptech.co.uk/Spec%20Sheets/D%20FLCi%20GE%20FLE42HLX-VT-827.htm GE Heliax Compact Fluorescent FLE42HLX-VT-827
  9. http://americanhistory.si.edu/lighting/20thcent/invent20.htm#in4 Compact Fluorescent - the Challenge of Manufacturing
  10. http://www.lamptech.co.uk/Spec%20Sheets/D%20FLCi%20Philips%20SL18.htm Philips SL*18 Compact Fluorescent with Integral Ballast
  11. http://ep.espacenet.com/advancedSearch?locale=en_EP European Patent Office - Advanced Search
  12. http://patft.uspto.gov/ United States Patent and Trademark Office
  13. http://www.ieee.org/portal/cms_docs/newsinfo/publicityguide02.pdf GE Fluorescent Lighting Pioneer to Receive IEEE Edison Medal, page 13
  14. http://americanhistory.si.edu/lighting/scripts/s20d.htm Competition for 20th Century Lamps: Script
  15. http://blogs.consumerreports.org/home/2008/08/best-cfl-bulbs.html 10 Questions for...Ed Hammer, CFL Inventor
  16. http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-160128.html Father of the Compact Fluorescent Bulb Looks Back
  17. http://www.gelighting.com/na/home_lighting/ask_us/faq_compact.htm Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL) FAQs
  18. http://www.drop-the-hammer.com/ Drop the Hammer with Ed Hammer
  19. http://www.tcpi.com/corp/corporateHome.aspx Energy Efficient Compact Fluorescent CFL Light
  20. http://www.freewebs.com/lamps003/ Fluorescent Lamp & Tubes