Lutron Donates Collection to Smithsonian
Members of Lutron Electronics and the consumer electronics media gathered at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington for a special donation ceremony on April 29 in which Joel Spira, inventor and developer of the solid-state electronic “dimming device” and chairman and founder of Pennsylvania-based Lutron Electronics, donated a collection of materials related to the company’s 50-year history to the museum’s Electricity Collections.
See below to view a gallery of the artifacts and other Lutron products through the years.
The donation included an early version of the original solid-state Capri dimmer manufactured by Lutron in September 1964, displays featuring the fully functional dimmer and other early models of Lutron dimmers and lighting-control systems. The donated documents included Spira’s original inventor’s notebook with more than 100 pages of handwritten documentation and historical photographs, brochures, product designs and advertisements.
At a special donation ceremony and luncheon, Joel and Ruth Spira discussed their company's contributions to the world of lighting control and energy conservation. “This is humbling for me to see my inventor's notebook; it's very special to be able to donate to the Smithsonian Institute. My early Capri dimmer has been responsible for energy management, and,” he joked, “romance!," Joel Spira said. “The future is about inventing devices that save 20 times the energy we are currently saving through the utilization of technology.”
The Lutron Materials will join other artifacts in the museum's Electricity Collection, including experimental lightbulbs from Thomas Edison, dimming light sockets from the 1910s, theatrical lighting controls from the 1920s and many types of light switches.
“As the nation's history museum we tell the story of this country in all its depth and breadth,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “Collections such as this one from Lutron help us to understand the continuation of the electrical evolution, the process of invention and the history of business and [manufacturing.]”
Also on hand was Hal Wallace, the associate curator of the museum's Electricity Collection. “The donation of the Lutron collection really allows us to bring the Electricity Collection, that consists of over 25,000 objects, from the last century into the new century," Wallace said. "We are delighted to be able to document and preserve the Lutron History for future generations.”
“Joel and Ruth Spira have been an important part of the Lehigh Valley industrial revolution. They are the true innovators that have transformed our lives through technology," said U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, who represents the Lehigh Valley in Congress. "They enable people to have control over their own environments while sustaining energy. They have even helped the Federal Government reduce its energy costs; their contributions to technology and energy efficiency have been immense.”
- Maureen Jenson