Bright idea: start hoarding 60s

Column by Craig Marshall Smith


It is time to start hoarding 60-watt light bulbs just like Twinkies. After Jan. 1, 2014, it will be illegal to sell them. But presumably you will still be able to buy an assault rifle. Say what?

Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out. We've already said goodbye to 100-watt and 75-watt bulbs. Did you know that? It's Illegal to manufacture or import them, but they can still be sold until they are all gone. And don't worry, the Light Bulb Constables are not going to break down your door.

I don't think the disappearance of incandescent bulbs will affect people the way the disappearance of Twinkies did. It's hard to get too sentimental about light bulbs. I didn't suffer for very long when they stopped making cassettes either.

The newer helical, integrated, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is niftier looking, even though it does have more surfaces for dust. I've never been very good at dusting my light bulbs. Now I will be even worse at it.

I need someone to shed some light on this: "CFLs radiate a spectral power distribution that is different from that of incandescent lamps. Improved phosphor formulations have improved the perceived colour of the light emitted by CFLs, such that some sources rate the best 'soft white' CFLs as subjectively similar in colour to standard incandescent lamps." Right.

I guess we can't go back again. But we can go back to vinyl. You can still buy record players and you can still buy vinyl records. Some people swear by the quality of vinyl over CDs. I gave all of mine to my friend Greg. He treats them with a lot of respect.

Records used to come in big paper sleeves. Paper is a wood-based product, and paper can be abrasive. Vinyl collectors often swap out the paper sleeves for something more archival.

Are we going to have light bulb pirates? Music is pretty easy to pirate, but it might be quite a chore to pirate 60-watt light bulbs. Where are you going to do it? I think once they're all gone, they're all gone.

Are there songs about light bulbs? Or poems? Yes. I found both. But none of them is very memorable.

Have you ever turned on a light and had it light for an instant and then burn out? Right then it's kind of poetic. A final flare. We have the same thing prolonged in another way every autumn, when a green leaf turns yellow and orange, and then falls brown.

I am having a hard time getting too nostalgic about this. Most of my incandescent bulbs aren't bare, so I don't see them, just their benefits.

I didn't get very nostalgic about Twinkies either. They are nasty things to begin with. Vulgar little sponges filled with who-knows-what? Just don't touch my Red Vines. After Jan. 1, 2014, those born will some day have to be told about light bulbs just like my parents had to tell me about tin toys and candlestick telephones.

Technology moves things in and moves things out very fast these days. The

humble light bulb had a good, long lifetime. Edison filed for the patent in 1879, and it was granted on Jan. 27, 1880.

I invented something last summer and pitched it to an outfit that takes an idea and develops it on behalf of the inventor. For an arm and a leg. I had neither. They promised not to manufacture it. But I have a hunch I will see my bright idea at Home Depot some day.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at


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