Iconic light bulb is on the way out

NEW YORK ? Light bulb makers have revamped some plants, shuttered others and invested enormous sums of money in preparation for a technological shift that they believe will revolutionize the industry.

Yet the fact that the incandescent bulb, which has remained largely unchanged for more than a century, is about to become obsolete is lost on the vast majority of the public.

The phase-out of the iconic light bulb begins in three years as part of the energy bill signed in 2007. They will be edged out by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, made from semiconductors, and compact fluorescent bulbs, known by their twisty, tubular shape.

New regulations require, for instance, that a typical 100-watt bulb be replaced by one that provides the same amount of light with 72 watts. Light bulbs will have to be even more efficient by 2020.

The author of the energy bill's lighting provision, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said at the time that incandescents "will be virtually obsolete" by 2014.

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