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  TechnologyElectrical and Nuclear EngineeringElectric Lighting

a Lava LiteThe Lava Lite

a light for psychedelic lovers

In 1963, English businessman and inventor Edward Craven Walker began manufacturing a liquid motion lamp that he called the Astro Light. The contraption was a cylinder, tapered at the end and filled with water and a glob of sticky wax. Warmed by a coil in the base, the wax swelled, twisted and wound through the water. When it reached the top, away from the heat, the wax would cool, shrink and return to the base of the lamp to start the process all over.

In 1965, Chicago businessmen Adolf Wertheimer saw the Astro Light at a furniture convention in Germany and saw a terrific business opportunity. He and fellow businessman Hy Spector secured the U.S. manufacturing rights from Walker and formed the Lava Manufacturing Corporation to make and sell the device, which they marketed under the brand name Lava Lite. They sold more than two million Lava Lites by 1970, thanks in large part to the psychedelic-loving "hippie generation." Although Lava Lites are still made today -- by the Lava World International division of Haggerty Enterprises -- sales have never again approached those of the late 1960's.


Jeff Rovin I Wish I'd Thought of That! Boca Raton, FL: Globe Communications Corp., 1995

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This page was last updated on 09/27/2015.

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