In 1962, 50 years ago today, Nick Holonyak Jr. and his team at GE invented the Light Emitting Diode. While LED lights are almost everywhere today — from bridges to headlights to keychain flashlights that are brighter than the sun — their initial development was ripe with uncertainty and competitive research. A direct result of another groundbreaking technology of its day, the laser, LEDs have continued to evolve and now illuminate our homes and transmit our data.
Wired Design caught up with Holonyak, now a professor at the University of Illinois, to ask him about the history, and future, of LEDs.
Wired: What was initial reception of the LED like?
Nick Holonyak: I had beaten the world to a visible laser with my alloy when I realized I’m also on the path to an LED. An editor from Reader’s Digest called me, and in February 1963 pointed at the fact that LEDs will eventually cover the whole spectrum and will be the source of white light.