Tensor lamp

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Tensor High Intensity Lamp (ca 1959, Brass, steel, copper, plastic, glass). Kept at the Brooklyn Museum. Gift of Jay Monroe

Tensor lamp is a small high-intensity and low-voltage desk lamp invented by Jay Monroe.[1][2] The lamp was mainly popular during the 1960s and 1970s.[3][4] The lamp was originally used by doctors and dentists, and later became more widely used.[5]


The first Tensor lamp consisted of assembling together a 12-volt automobile parking light bulb and reflector made from an ordinary kitchen measuring cup. Monroe fixed the cup to a metal tube that was attached to a transformer, which reduced 115-volt house current to 12 volts. Because of the small bulb, the entire lamp could be made smaller with a light-directing shade.[5]


  1. ^ "Interest in Tiny Lamp Rises". The New York Times. March 21, 1964. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  2. ^ "Tensor lamp inventor dies". United Press International. July 5, 2007. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  3. ^ Ingersoll, John H. (January 1965). "Big Light in a Little Package". Popular Science. Vol. 151 no. 1. Bonnier Corporation. p. 151. ISSN 0161-7370 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Those little high-intensity lamps". Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Vol. 19 no. 6. Kiplinger Washington Editors. June 1965. pp. 35–36. ISSN 1528-9729 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (July 2, 2007). "Jay Monroe, 80, Engineer Who Invented Tensor Lamp, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2018.