Updated 05-I-2018

Arthur James White

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.

Loris E. Mitchell, back row second from left; Arthur J. White, far right; Philip J. Pritchard, front row far left, c. 19201

Arthur James White (14 May 1888 - 31 July 1944) was a native of Youngstown, Ohio and was the son of James and Catherine (Conway) White. He started to work in the lamp business as a glassblower in Youngstown just after the turn of the century.

White was a foreman in the Youngstown Mazda Lamp Plant when he was drafted on 18 December 1917. He was mustered into the 10th Company, Coast Artillery, at Camp Nichols. From there he was transferred to the Enlisted Engineers' Reserve Corps and assigned to Nela Park, in Cleveland, where he helped to develop vacuum tubes that were to be used on wireless telephones. He was released from military service on 14 April 1919.

Both Arthur White and Loris Mitchell were foremen in the Lamp Facilities Laboratory of the Nela Lamp Division. That laboratory was formed in 1915 and was under the direction of Philip J. Pritchard. It had been the desire of Pritchard to eliminate the tip from the lamp. For over a year White and Mitchell worked on the problem. The joint effort led to success and later in time the glass tips on vacuum tubes were also eliminated.

For the last six years of his career in the General Electric lamp business White served as personnel manager at Nela Park. This responsibility followed twenty years as a foreman in a lamp factory at Nela Park.

White was granted eleven patents which were issued between the years 1922 and 1944. He married May E. Code (1890-1974) and lived at 789 Woodview Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Arthur White passed away in St. Luke's Hospital in Cleveland and interment was in Oak Hill Cemetery, Youngstown.

Development of the Tipless Lamp
A feature of the electric incandescent lamp since its inception in 1879 was a glass tip at the crown of the bulb. The tip was a remnant of the glass tubing through which the lamp was exhausted of its air (as well as filled with inert gases after the invention of the gas-filled lamp in 1912). Visible exhaust tips are commonplace again today on tungsten-halogen lamps. In the early years of production such a protuberance could be the reason for lamp breakage as well as personal injury. The glass tip also affected light distribution. For these reasons it was very desirable to eliminate the tip.

Tipless lamps did appear early in the manufacture of the incandescent lamp but the techniques used were expensive in one way or another. Some of them were practical for certain lamp types but could not be considered for a commodity product that had to be produced at high rates of speed. The seamless butt seal, common on flashlight bulbs, was one such technique. Such lamps had no stem to support the filament; it was held by two lead wires which were embedded in the glass. Higher voltage lamps could not be constructed in that manner.

One of the methods most used to make a tipless lamp utilized a construction that was patented by Herman J. Jaeger in 1903 (U.S. Patent 729,182). It consisted of an "L" shaped exhaust tube that was sealed to the inside of the stem tube after the pinch had been made. A lamp employing this exhaust procedure was marketed for many years by the Tipless Lamp Company.

The General Electric Company marketed a premium lamp from 1906 to 1911 that was tipless. It was a large globular lamp known as the Meridian. The construction was patented by H. D. Burnett and Samuel E. Doane in 1894 (U.S. Patent 516,800). Their idea couldn't be used, however, until 1906, after Mark H. Branin of the Edison Lamp Works made a machine improvement that allowed the stem structure to be made. The Meridian was a decorative lamp and was manufactured to compete with the popular Nernst lamp, which employed metal oxides instead of a filament. The Jaeger and Meridian methods of exhaust were too expensive for general use. A variety of these different exhaust methods are shown below.

Lamp exhaust methods from left to right: tubulated, butt, Jaeger, Meridian (Burnett-Doane), Mitchell & White.
These pictures were scanned from Howell and Schroeder's book2.

An inexpensive method of construction, which eliminated the tip from view and exposure, was invented at Nela Park in 1919. It was Loris E. Mitchell and Arthur J. White who applied for a patent for their construction and procedure and received it in 1922 (U.S. Patent 1,423,956, July 25 1922). It would appear that their invention stopped any further attempts to exhaust lamps differently. Their construction was quickly adopted throughout the world and is still used today.

The Mitchell and White construction permitted the exhaust tube to be inserted when the stem was being made. During the stem-making process, when the glass could still flow, air was blown from the outside at that location where the exhaust tube was sealed into the stem. A hole resulted which could then be used later to exhaust the lamp from the base end. The exhaust tip was then hidden from view by the lamp base. The new tipless lamp was economical, stronger, safer, aesthetically more appealing and also gave a better distribution of light.

Mitchell and White were awarded the Charles A. Coffin Foundation Award in 1924 for their invention of the tipless lamp. From the records of the Foundation the following excerpt gives an account of the achievement:

"Louis Edwin Mitchell and Arthur James White, both foreman in Nela Lamp Division, Nela Park, developed the method and type of equipment which makes possible on a commercial scale the manufacture of tipless Mazda lamps - one of the greatest advances in incandescent lamp manufacture in years. Neither of these men is employed as an engineer, a laboratory man, or a 'researcher.' Mr. White has been with the company twenty-one years and Mr. Mitchell fourteen. They conceived the idea that they could make the tipless lamps of which their manager so often spoke, and they proceeded to do so, after considering, and one by one discarding, all previous efforts as being uncommercial. Their invention, whereby the exhaust tube of the lamp is attached at the seal, has eliminated operations, wrought greater production, made less skill necessary on the part of operators, and reduced shrinkage. Today, nearly 100% of the Mazda lamps manufactured are made by their method. Among the many desirable things it has accomplished, perhaps the most recent is in connection with automobile headlight lamps. Here it has introduced such accuracy in axial alignment and over-all length as was never dreamed of before - accuracy which is of the utmost importance in focussing."

  1. "The National in the World War (April 6 1917 - November 11 1918)", General Electric Company, 1920, opposite p.242.
  2. "History of the Incandescent Lamp", John W. Howell & Henry Schroeder, The Maqua Company, Publishers, Schenectady, New York, 1927.
  3. "Book of the Incas", 1928.