National Flashlight Day is celebrated on December 21st of each year. The staff at National Whatever Day were unable to discover the origin of National Flashlight Day, however we believe it may have come about due to all those late night visits with family and friends during the holiday season.
In 1896, the first dry cell battery was invented. Unlike previous batteries, it used a paste electrolyte instead of a liquid. This was the first battery suitable for portable electrical devices, as it did not spill or break easily and worked in any orientation.
On January 10, 1899, American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company obtained U.S. Patent No. 617,592 (filed 12 March 1898) from David Misell, its English inventor. This “electric device” designed by Misell was powered by “D” batteries laid front to back in a paper tube with the light bulb and a rough brass reflector at the end. The company donated some of these devices to the New York City police, who responded favorably to them.
These early flashlights ran on zinc carbon batteries, which could not provide a steady electric current and required periodic ‘rest’ to continue functioning. Because these early flashlights also used energy-inefficient carbon-filament bulbs, “resting” occurred at short intervals. Consequently, they could be used only in brief flashes, hence the popular name flashlight.