Updated 20-I-2020

Leroy G. Leighton

This article is based on a document of fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, which appeared on his 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 and subsequently expanded with new material by this author, to maintain continued access to the research he initiated.

Leroy Leighton circa 1960-1970 (photograph kindly provided by his daughter)8

Roy Leighton (25 May 1912 - 11 March 1990)2,5,6 was the son of Wallace Leroy and Mabel Violet (George) Leighton2. He was a native of Jacksonville, Florida and a 1935 graduate of the University of Florida1, having earned a degree in engineering. Roy married Edythe Marie Atkinson on 27 Sep 1936 in St. Augustine, Florida. He joined the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York in 1937 as a test engineer and later became a leader in the Incandescent Lamp Design Engineering group at Nela Park. Roy retired from there in 1977. The Leighton's were parents of two daughters, Claudia and Patricia.

An Academy Award for an Incandescent Lamp
An Academy Award plaque (Class II) for the year 1958, was presented to Leroy G. Leighton, Don W. Prideaux and the Lamp Division of the General Electric Company on 6 April 1959 for the design and production of an improved 10-kilowatt lamp for motion picture set lighting7. The lamp design was based on U.S. Patent 2,933, 632, granted to Leighton, which utilized a collector screen (or grid), located above the filament3. The presence of the screen resulted in the capture of tungsten atoms and particles that were convected above the filament. This resulted in improved light output with burning time as well as a reduction in the excessive heating, and blistering of, the glass surface above the filament. The lamp had a bipost structure for current lead-in.

The collector screen lamp, as shown below, was very large and this overall improvement in the design greatly increased the ability to shoot motion picture film at near-constant light levels for a much longer period of time.

The 10kW G96 studio incandescent lamp with collector grid3

The Saw-Mill Lamp
It is of interest to mention another lamp listed in the patents below that is most unusual; it is the one described in U.S. 2,467,710. The writer believes this to be a "saw mill" lamp. When the lamp is mounted directly over a cutting table a line is visible on the table that is the image of the straight tungsten wire. This, therefore, provides a reference line for cutting. The tungsten wire is number 9 on the drawings below and a collector screen, provided to reduce bulb blackening, is number 14.

The Sawmill Lamp of US Patent 2,467,710

The writer is grateful to Bruce Shanks for providing a patent number which was missed in an earlier write-up, and to his daughter, Patricia Leighton, for most generously providing a photograph of her father.

  1. US 2,338,855 - Jan 11, 1944 - Filament Connection for Electric Lamps
  2. US 2,462,325 - Feb 22, 1949 - Filament Connection for Electric Incandescent Lamps
  3. US 2,467,710 - Apr 19, 1949 - Incandescent Lamp
  4. US 2,476,671 - Jul 19, 1949 - Electric Projection Lamp
  5. US 2,523,033 - Sep 19, 1950 - Electric Radiant Energy Device
  6. US 2,565,138 - Aug 21, 1951 - Filament Support Structure for Incandescent Lamps
  7. US 2,624,019 - Dec 30, 1952 - Electric Lamp Or Similar Article
  8. US 2,933,632 - Apr 19, 1960 - Incandescent Lamp With Blackening Collector Screen
  9. US 3,573,534 - Apr 6, 1974 - Lamp Base And Leading-In Wire Connection
  10. US 4,093,894 - Jun 6, 1978 - Stay-On Lamp

  1. "25 Years", General Electric News - Lamp Division, Feb 14, 1962, p.5.
  2. "Leroy George Leighton" in Who's Who in America, 1974-1975, Vol 2, Marquis Who's Who in America, Chicago, IL, .1844.
  3. A Century of Light, James A. Cox, A Benjamin Company/Rutledge Book, New York, 1979, pp.105-108.
  4. Death Notice, "Leroy George Leighton", The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Mar 14, 1990, p.4B.
  5. "GE Engineer Leroy Leighton's Awards Included Oscar", The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Mar 15 1990, p.19-D.
  6. Family Search Internet Genealogy Service. http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/frameset_search.asp Fill in the first name of Leroy and the last name of Leighton. Leave exact spelling off. Information about Roy is given at listing No. 25.
  7. http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Years/1958/academy-awards - Look under "Scientific and Engineering Award"
  8. Private communication, Pamela Leighton, January 2020.