It was invented in 1851 by German inventor and manufacturer Julius Pintsch (1815-1884). Its primary use in the latter half of the 19th century was for illumination of railroad cars. In several railway accidents Pintsch gas lamps added fuel to any fire which started, for example, in the Thirsk rail crash (1892), Quintinshill rail disaster (1915), and the Dugald rail accident (1947). Lamps using Pintsch gas burned brighter and longer than the existing oil lamps they replaced. These lamps could also withstand vibration and rough usage without extinguishing the light. These features made Pintsch gas a popular solution for illumination of buoys, beacons and unmanned lighthouses, which allowed these devices to have the capability to remain lit for several months without servicing.
Electricity and other artificial means of lighting eventually replaced Pintsch illumination. However, it was still used in lighthouses and beacons long after it was replaced elsewhere.