Explore the History of Holophane

January 13, 2023 Tom Pierce

Over 125 Year Legacy of Leading the Lighting Industry 

1898 - The birth of Holophane

The Holophane Glass story begins in the early 1890s when French electric scientist Andre Blondel and Greek engineer Spiridion Psaroudaki covered a glass globe in the laboratory with horizontal prisms positioned to manipulate light.

This new glass prismatic technology would come to be known as the “Blondel Flute” and would transform the way lighting would be controlled through highly engineered prismatic optics. They were awarded a U.S. patent in 1893, when Holophane fixtures were already being manufactured in France and exported across Europe and the U.S.

Otis A. Mygatt acquired the rights for the illumination technology in 1896 and founded Holophane in London. The term “Holophane” comes from the Greek words Holos and Phainein, which translated means “to appear wholly luminous.” The Holophane Glass Company was then incorporated in America in 1898, with its first headquarters in New York, NY.

The first 100 years

Great strides were made in illumination technology during the early 1900s. Holophane employed specialized engineers to study the distribution of light. The result was an innovative line of globes and reflectors made of clear crystal glass with prisms constructed to direct rays of light both downward and outward. 

The early 1900s found Holophane providing “scientific illumination” to a variety of industrial facilities. Holophane coined the term “illumineering” based on the visual and physiological needs of the human eye, a concept that is still pervasive in lighting technology.

In October of 1905, Van Rensselaer Lansingh of Holophane assisted E. Leavenworth Elliott in publishing what was called “a technical journal devoted to the use of artificial light,” The Illuminating Engineer. This ultimately led to the first full technical meeting of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) on February 13, 1906.

Throughout the 1900s, Holophane established itself as an industry leader with innovation in leading the high-bay market and other solutions for heavy industrial applications. The company experienced great expansion hallmarks during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s including the construction of a new R&D facility in Newark, OH which featured a mold shop and ultimately a complete assembly plant with multiple glass furnace lines.  New facilities were later established in Springfield and Utica, OH as well as Edison, NJ.

During the 1970s Holophane began leading the high-mast lighting market with a cutting-edge design for high-mast lowering devices that greatly simplified the act of installing, servicing, and re-lamping fixtures on 50-100ft poles.

In the mid-1990s, Holophane US operations turned to international expansion with projects in Japan, Korea, and China, with operations being headquartered in Newark, OH. Holophane Europe Limited operated as a separate entity and pursued opportunities in Hong Kong, Singapore, and other parts of the far East.

In 1999 Holophane was purchased by what was to become Acuity Brands, Inc, a market-leading industrial technology company that develops innovative new products and services, including lighting, lighting controls, building management systems, and location-aware applications.  

Today’s Holophane

Holophane continues its 125-year tradition of optical expertise and engineering excellence to deliver customers the lowest total cost of ownership throughout the operating life of our solutions. Drawing on the depth of the Acuity Brands portfolio of brands, Holophane offers complete lighting solutions including state-of-the-art controls and asset management with innovative product platforms, such as the GranVille® LED, Tear Drop LED, Mongoose®, Petrolux®, Phuzion™ high-bays, Predator® and the HMAO™ LED high-mast.

As a vertically integrated manufacturer, Holophane and Acuity Brands are positioned to offer significant quality and service advantages.

Holophane products and services are sold primarily through an internal factory-direct salesforce supplemented by alliances with select Utility agents and distributors. This ensures a customer experience entrenched in highly skilled lighting experts that build lasting relationships and partnerships.

Tomorrow's Holophane

Keeping with the Holos Phanein namesake, Holophane will continue to advance its leadership position in providing robust, cost-effective, and visually comfortable lighting solutions that reduce operating costs and enhance customer sustainability efforts.


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