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The History of Signs Infographic- How Business Signs Changed the World

William (Bill) Hayes

the history of signage


Signs have long been an advertising staple, and with the use of light emitting diodes

(LEDs), they’ve more than caught up with the digital age. Signs have evolved in the

materials that are used, the messages they offer, and the way they are illuminated.


The Evolution of Signs: A Brief History

Signs are ubiquitous these days, but they actually first came into use as early as

Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome. The Romans used signs that were constructed of

stone or terra cotta. The point where signage became what we think of and use

today was in Europe before the nineteenth century, and the first commercial signs

typically featured symbols or images of a tradesman’s craft or a merchant’s goods

but sometimes did include text. Emblems were suspended from buildings, painted on

wooden boards, or mounted on poles, which are all things that we still see today.

Though King Richard III is more known for his mythic hunchback and evil demeanor,

he also had a hand in swaying the history of signs. In 1389, he ordered all of the ale

houses in England to install signs to make them easier for him to find and to test

quality ales.

History of business signs infographic


Signs these days make use of LED technology to light up, but signs were illuminated

even before electricity was invented. An example of this appears in an advertisement

that was printed around 1700, which mentions a candle-lit sign. Additionally, in 1840,

P.T. Barnum built a large sign that used gas for illumination.

One of the most famous and recognizable forms of signage is the neon sign, which

first started appearing in the U.S. in the 1920s and reached the peak of its popularity

20 years later. The first neon sign in the U.S. was erected in 1923 in Los Angeles at

a Packard Motor Car dealership. Neon signs eventually evolved into LED signs.

These days, more and more signs are becoming digital and make use of LED

technology to create dynamic changeable displays in rich colors.


Bill Hayes CEO Signdealz

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William (Bill) Hayes
Written by

William (Bill) Hayes

William (Bill) Hayes, with over 20 years of experience, is deeply committed to assisting small and medium-sized businesses in developing effective B2B advertising strategies. His expertise primarily focuses on integrating on-premise signage solutions with traditional advertising methods. At Signdealz, Hayes leads the charge in innovating advertising tactics aimed at SMEs, concentrating on generating efficient, lead-producing mechanisms that outperform competitors in both immediacy and cost-effectiveness. He spends much of his time working directly with small business owners, guiding them in evaluating locations, advertising strategies, and the necessary systems to attract customers to physical sites. Utilizing a tested network of partners, Hayes plays a crucial role in facilitating the nationwide distribution of signage, underscoring his dedication to enhancing the visibility and growth of businesses across various sectors.

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