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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Sunglasses
by Sam Foster in 1929.
SUNGLASSES
AT A GLANCE:
Early sunglasses served a special purpose and it wasn't to block the rays of the sun.  For centuries, Chinese judges had routinely worn smoke-colored quartz lenses to conceal their eye expressions in court. It wasn't until the 20th century that modern-type sunglasses came to be. In 1929, Sam Foster, founder of the Foster Grant company sold the first pair of Foster Grant sunglasses on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. By 1930, sunglasses were all the rage.
Invention: sunglasses in 1929
Sunglasses photo courtesy Ray-Ban
Function: noun / sun∑glass
Definition: Sunglasses are a visual aid which feature lenses that are colored or darkened or polarizing lenses to protect the eyes from the sun's glare.
Trademark: Trademark filed November 3, 1959. Reg No.0703527

Milestones:
1300cChinese judges wore smoke-colored quartz lenses to conceal their eye expressions in court.
1430cVision-correcting darkened eyeglasses were introduced into China from Italy
1700cJames Ayscough believed blue-green-tinted glass could correct specific vision impairments.
1929  Sam Foster found a ready market for sunglasses on the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey
1936  Sunglasses become polarized, Ray Ban began using Edwin H. Land Polaroid filter.
1960  A clever advertising campaign by Foster Grant makes sunglasses chic and popular.
2004 Oakley, eyeware company, developed Thump, sunglasses with built-in digital audio player.
sunglasses, sunglass, Foster Grant, Sam Foster, Ray-Ban, James Ayscough, Edwin H. Land, Polaroid filter, Oakley, invention, story, facts, history, inventor, Biography.

Story:
Early sunglasses served a special purpose and it wasn't to block the rays of the sun. Smoke tinting was the first means of darkening eyeglasses, and the technology was developed in China prior to 1430. These darkened lenses were not vision-corrected, nor were they initially intended to reduce solar glare. For centuries, Chinese judges had routinely worn smoke-colored quartz lenses to conceal their eye expressions in court. A judge’s evaluation of evidence as credible or mendacious was to remain secret until a trial’s conclusion.

Smoke-tinted lenses came to serve also as sunglasses, but that was never their primary function. And around 1430, when vision-correcting eyeglasses were introduced into China from Italy, they, too, were darkened, though mainly for judicial use.

James Ayscough began experimenting with tinted lenses in spectacles in the mid-18th century. These were not "sunglasses" as such; Ayscough believed blue- or green-tinted glass could correct for specific vision impairments. Protection from the sun's rays was not a concern of his.

The popularity of sunglasses is really a twentieth-century phenomenon. And in America, the military, which played a role in the development of sunscreens, also was at the forefront of sunglass technology.

It wasn't until the 20th century that modern-type sunglasses came to be. In 1929, Sam Foster, founder
of the Foster Grant company sold the first pair of Foster Grant sunglasses on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. By 1930, sunglasses were all the rage.

In the 1930s, the Army Air Corps commissioned the optical firm of Bausch & Lomb to produce a highly effective spectacle that would protect pilots from the dangers of high-altitude glare. Company physicists and opticians perfected a special dark-green tint that absorbed light in the yellow band of the spectrum.

With World War II brewing in 1936, Ray Ban designed anti-glare aviator style sunglasses, using polarized lens technology newly created by Edwin H. Land, founder of the Polaroid Corporation.
They also designed a slightly drooping frame perimeter to maximally shield an aviatorís eyes, which repeatedly glanced downward toward a plane's instrument panel. Fliers were issued the glasses at no charge, and the public in 1937 was able to purchase the model that banned the sun's rays as Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses.

What helped make sunglasses chic was a clever 1960s' style advertising campaign by the comb and glass firm of Foster Grant. Well-known fashion designers, as well as Hollywood stars, escalated the sunglass craze in the ‘70s with their brand-name lines. A giant industry developed where only a few decades earlier none existed. As women since ancient times had hidden seductively behind an expanded fan or a dipped parasol, modern women-and men-discovered an allure in wearing sunglasses, irrespective of solar glare.

TO LEARN MORE

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
100 Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1983)
/ Bluewood Books 
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories About Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson / Paperback - 128 pages (1999) / Puffin
Brief factual stories about how various familiar things were invented, many by accident, from animal crackers to the zipper.
Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition (September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500 everyday items, expressions and customs.

The Sun Also Rises
by Ernest Hemingway / Paperback: 251 pages / Scribner, Reissue edition (March 1995)
The Sun Also Rises first appeared in 1926, and yet it's as fresh and clean and fine as it ever was,
maybe finer.

ON THE WEB:
Ray-Ban Genuine Since 1937
Official Web site of Ray-Ban.
(URL: www.rayban.com/)
Foster Grant UK
More recently the campaign has featured super model Cindy Crawford as FosterGrant celebrate 75 years in the sunglass business.
(URL: www.fostergrant.co.uk/about.php)
"Isn’t that ... behind those Foster Grants?"

In 1929, Sam Foster sold the first pair of FosterGrants at the Woolworth at  Atlantic City Boardwalk.
(URL: www.fostergrant.com)
The History of Eyeglasses
First conceived and sketched by Leonardo da Vinci in 1508, contact lens technology did not begin to come together until 1827, when English astronomer Sir John Herschel suggested grinding a contact lens to conform exactly to the eye's surface.
(URL: www.sideroad.com/Beauty/history-of-eyeglasses.html)

Elton John
Stand in the light so I can see you. Official Elton John Web site.
(URL: www.eltonjohn.com/)
Optician to the Stars
Beginning in 1984, Starry Eyes founder, "Optician to the Stars," Cheryl Shuman, was one of
the pioneers in marketing the fashion industry to the entertainment industry. POP-UP ADS.
(URL: www.seeing-stars.com/Shop/Optician.shtml
)
The Glass Encyclopedia
This site is intended to be the ultimate reference source on glass. It covers a list of topics that will be increased and up-dated regularly, building up to a fully comprehensive glass encyclopedia on-line.
(URL: www.glassencyclopedia.com/)


WHERE TO FIND:
Ray Ban Aviator
Sunglasses / by Ray Ban /
B0007W1H5S /  Less than $100.00
The Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses collection reminds us of the old days when quality was something you could rely on. Ray Ban Classic Aviators are in a class of their own.

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • The "Sunglasses of the Stars" campaign, featuring the sunglassed faces of such Hollywood celebrities as Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, and Anita Ekberg. Magazine advertisements and television commercials teased: "Isn’t that ... behind those Foster Grants?" Soon any star in sunglasses, whatever the actual brand, was assumed to be wearing Foster Grants.
  • So what's the difference between eyeglasses and spectacles? Today the terms are used interchangeably, but at the turn of the last century, there was a clear demarcation: "eyeglasses" was the word used to describe eyewear with no sidebar, while "spectacles" referred to frames with sidebars.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised December 4, 2006.
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