Prest-O-Lite History

I obtained this article from the Town of Speedway Library, and it provides a tidy history of the Prest-O-Lite Company.
Prest-O-Lite was the breakthrough product that propelled the fortunes of Indianapolis Motor Speedway founders Carl Fisher and James Allison to elite levels. Both were established businessmen when they founded the corporation, originally named Concentrated Acetelyene Company. Fisher owned one of the first automobile dealerships in the country and Allison was president of Allison Coupon Company (founded by his father Noah in the 1880's) and founder of James Allison Manufacturing Company selling watches and fountain pens, most notably the Allison Perfection Pen.  Despite previous business success, both men took their wealth and influence to new levels through the 1904 introduction of Prest-O-Lite, the first truely effective headlight for automobiles. Headlamps prior to the advent of Prest-O-Lite were basically lanterns.
The Prest-O-Lite technology was not based on electric lights which would not be effectively introduced for several years (Cadillac is credited with this in 1912), but compressed acetylene gas ignited by a sparking switch. Allison and Fisher were introduced to the idea by entrepreneur P.C. Avery who had purchased the patent for compressing the gas in a canister that was fitted to the running boards of automobiles and then devlivered to the headlights through tubing.
Acetylene was well known in the industry prior to the formation of Prest-O-Lite but manufacturers were wary of its use due to its volatile nature. Prest-O-Lite canisters proved safe for use on cars but the charging process in company factories was a far more iffy proposition. In addition to becoming known for the breakthrough of providing effective headlights for night driving, the company developed a reputation for being reckless and Fisher spent a good portion of his time in legal courts. Explosions occured at locations across the country.
This article was provided to me by the Town of Speedway Library. I have to warn you that it has some inaccuracies with respect to the Fisher-Allison days of Prest-O-Lite. Be careful, corroborate anything you want to take away from this article. It is not worthless (or I would not include it) but also it is far from definitive.

Prest-O-Lite.pdf1.41 MB