It all started with a glow stick….
…and submarines. The military was anxious to invent glowing equipment for their vessels long before anyone thought of playing with glow in the dark materials.
Inventors Clarence Gilliam and Thomas Hall patented the first Chemical Lighting Device in October 1973, but a “chemical lighting device” is far from the glow in the dark sticks we play with today. While many people have patents on variations, the glow sticks with the goopy insides that we recognize today all got started with MIT scientist Edwin Chandross in 1962. He concocted the sticky goo in his laboratory for Bell Labs.
Though glow sticks started out in the military, some claim that the first public glow sticks used for recreation came out at a 1971 Grateful Dead show. The show happened after a Yale football game.
Now we have a ton of different glow in the dark paints and derivatives because of this initial invention. But hey! Why are most glow in the dark toys a greenish color? That’s because of the zinc sulfide which works well with plastics. The chemical gives off a natural green color and is non-toxic.