The Phoebus cartel was a well known scheme to fix the standard lifespan of incandescent lightbulbs that arose at the beginning of the 20th century. See Spectrum.ieee.org.

Although not implemented for entirely nefarious purposes, there certainly was a motivating aspect that would likely have been resisted by the Soviet Union and China given their political positions.

Was there ever an on the record policy or standard that gave rise to a different type of, presumably longer lasting, light bulb?

And if so, has anyone ever investigated and compared these light bulbs?

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    @Jan ~1989 it was told that Osram vs Narva: 750h vs 1500h? These are numbers from newspapers, no real hard comparisons though. GDR lightbulbs, then East-German lightbulbs were & are advertised as 'longer lasting' (old GDR stuff & "are": on ebay, i case you wondered…). And that ad-angle is for household items in general, fridges etc. Jan 19, 2022 at 12:39
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    @MCW export of East German household electrics across the iron curtain to the west was common. Payment was in hard currency. Certain internet forums claim this also applied to NARVA light bulbs, but I was unable to find something more reliable.
    – Jan
    Jan 19, 2022 at 12:46
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    @LangLangC interesting. According to this wp article, it seems there is a trade-off between brightness, energy consumption and longevity of a light bulb, and it would be somewhat logical for East Germany to optimize for higher longevity.
    – Jan
    Jan 19, 2022 at 12:54
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    @MCW Indeed, the Comecon economy was to a large degree coordinated. And not just East German but also quite explicitly Hungarian bulbs were said to last longer as well. Trade-offs in optimisation of target points did/does play a role, but others as well, and the cartel was (imo) not just about 1000h-max, but mainly a regional monopoly, ie: price fixing. Problem here: dozens of articles claiming these anecdotes, but no hard numbers or objective comparison I ever found. And this is about a 'documented decision in eg SU', not even effective observed outcome. Jan 19, 2022 at 13:52
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    I'm noticing a lot of anachronistic comments here that don't seem to realize that the cartel in question ended in 1939 with the start of WWII. The question itself seems to suffer from the same problem, as the end of the cartel also predates the People's Republic of China.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 19, 2022 at 14:12


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