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Happy Birthday:  The Modern CFL Light Bulb Turns 25
Lighting pioneer OSRAM SYLVANIA celebrates an energy saving invention 

DANVERS, Mass., April 14, 2010 – OSRAM SYLVANIA is marking the 25th birthday of the modern compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulb. Born on April 17, 1985 in Hannover, Germany, the CFL arrived a full eight inches tall, consuming 20 watts of energy. The stick-shaped CFL was the first screw-in, energy-saving replacement for a standard incandescent light bulb that featured an integrated electronic ballast.

“The CFL has only improved with age,” said Alfred LaSpina, OSRAM SYLVANIA marketing manager for CFLs. “Today, the SYLVANIA Living Spaces™ CFL is half the size of our 1985 model, provides better light quality and lasts twice as long, while still delivering 75 percent energy savings.”

CFL BirthdayWhile the CFL currently enjoys broad popularity in North America, it was slow to gain acceptance in the late 1980s and 1990s, when energy prices were low.

The lighting industry began tracking sales of integrated CFLs in the United States in 1997, when just 13.3 million units were sold, compared to 2.8 billion incandescent bulbs.

hen energy costs began to rise in the early 2000s, so did the CFL’s popularity with businesses and homeowners. Integrated CFL sales in the United States increased from 57 million bulbs in 2001 to over 273 million in 2009. In Canada, the number of CFLs sold went from just under 1 million pieces in 2001 to a high of over 46 million pieces in 2007. The 2009 SYLVANIA Socket Survey found more than 70 percent of American households now have at least one CFL.

Developing the first CFL with an integrated electronic ballast was a phenomenal experience,” recalls Alfred Wacker, one of the bulb’s inventors. “Being able to save up to 75 percent of the energy of a standard bulb was a revolution in lighting.”

The first CFL light bulbs required heavy magnetic ballasts to operate or only worked in specialized fixtures. Engineers at the German lighting company OSRAM created the modern CFL by miniaturizing electronic ballast technology and integrating it into the light bulb itself. OSRAM produces SYLVANIA brand light bulbs in North America and introduced the modern CFL to the United States and Canada.

Dozens of types of SYLVANIA CFLs are available in North America today, with features including instant start technology, integrated dimmers, night light settings and various shapes and sizes.

Modern Compact Fluorescent Technical Specifications​
1985 2010
Average Life Span​ 6,000 hrs​ ​12,000 hrs
​Size 8.1inches tall​ ​3.8 inches tall
Wattage​ 7-11-15-20W​ ​5-10-13-20-23-26W
Shape​ Stick shape​ Twist shape​
Color Temperature​ Warm white​ Warm white, bright white, daylight​
Mercury​ 10-15mg​ <1.5mg​
Price​ $50​ ​$4.99
Live Twitter Chat with “The Two Alfreds”
Modern CFL inventor Alfred Wacker and SYLVANIA CFL expert Alfred LaSpina will host a live Twitter chat @SYLVANIA on Thursday April 15, 12:00 noon - 12:15 p.m. ET. The duo will answer questions about the history of the modern CFL and today’s CFL lighting solutions.

Questions are currently being solicited for the chat. Send an @ reply on Twitter to @SYLVANIA to ask a CFL-related question. The chat can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #CFLBDay.

OSRAM SYLVANIA is a leader in lighting solutions that feature innovative design and energy saving technology. The company sells products for homes, businesses and vehicles primarily under the SYLVANIA brand name, and also under the OSRAM brand. Headquartered in Danvers, Mass., OSRAM SYLVANIA is the North American operation of OSRAM GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens AG. For more information, visit or follow SYLVANIA on Facebook and Twitter.