According to Ed, a lot of work was done by GE in 1970′s, specifically by a man named John Anderson. He patented an electronic high frequency ballast which was technically successful, but not commercially successful because of very high costs. Therefore the technology was there at the time, but the cost made no sense to make them.
In 1973-74 the oil crisis took place and lamp companies needed to reduce wattage in their linear (tube) lamps to compensate. Many people had four bulb fixtures and were removing two bulbs, to save energy, therefore dropping sales by half. This forced lamp companies to create energy efficient solution.
Ed worked on creating lamp with reduced wattage by adding krypton and a conductive tin coating inside. This helped lower the wattage from 40 to 35 watts but he wanted to get down to 30 watts. He continued to work and finally the wattage went from 35 to 34 and eventually 32 watts!
Ed explains the different types of linear lamps – T8, T12, T5, T17. The conversion is 1 inch = 8/8 diameter. Therefore a T12 = 12/8 =1.5 inches in diameter, or a T8 = 8/8 = 1 inch in diameter.
The new lamps created a reliable start and higher range of ambiant light, using less energy.
In 1975 companies were still using old electronic ballasts which were failing, while the lamps were still good. This posed a problem for extending the life of the whole package. It was pointed out that the ballast and lamp have to be a system – the ballasts needed to catch up with technology the lamps had already reached.
Ed realized they would need a CFL for residential use. He came up with the idea to make the linear tube into a spiral. He was told that it would be too expensive and the reflection loss would be too great, basically that he should NOT waste his time.
He went ahead and made the spiral, and as long as he optimized the spacing between the spirals the reflection loss was minimized (at the most 3 lumens per watt). This still made the CFL lamps much better than the incandescent bulbs.