||We describe the evolution of lighting technologies used throughout the ages, and how the need for improvements was such that any new technology giving better and cheaper lighting was immediately implemented. Thus, every revolution in energy sources – gas, petrol electricity – was first put to large-scale use in lighting. We describe in some detail several “ancient” techniques of scientific interest, along with their physical limitations. Electroluminescence – the phenomenon by which LEDs directly convert electricity into light – was long thought to only be of use for indicators or flat panel displays supposed to replace the bulky cathode-ray tubes. The more recent uses of LEDs were mainly for street traffic lights, car indicators, small phone displays, followed by backlighting of TV screens. LED lamps for general lighting only emerged recently as the dominant application of LEDs thanks to dramatic decrease in cost, and continuous improvements of color quality and energy conversion efficiency.