Advertising took a colorful turn in 1912 when scientist/tinkerer Georges Claude sold the first notable neon sign to a local Parisian vermouth maker. Suddenly the name of his shop was emblazoned in nearly-four-foot glowing red letters that were so bright, so beautiful, so unlike any other kind of electric light that passersby would stop to stare.
By 1919, the Paris Opera House was lighting up its entrance with red-and-blue neon. By 1923, Los Angeles had its first neon signs: two Packard beacons for an auto dealership. By 1926, Tokyo had flipped the switch on its first neon, and in 1936, New York City gave out 3,400 permits for “illuminated signs.”