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Author Topic: Robert Kyp -- Inventer of the Balafire Flicker manf of Carbon Filament Lamps  (Read 23061 times)

Offline Don M

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Robert (Bob) Kyp (Kyp-Go, Inc), the inventer of the oscillating carbon filament lamps (Balafire Flicker and Electric Flame), passed away on January 9, 2010 at his home in DeLand FL.  Bob was 88 and worked until two weeks before his passing.  In addition to being known world-wide for the Flicker and Electric Flame, he was well known for 'his' hand-made carbon filaments.  In the 50+ years Bob spent making his filaments/lamps, he never lost his passion for Edison's initial work.  Bob worked tirelessly for many years to keep the Carbon Filament alive and available for those who wanted to add authenticity or ambiance to thier lighting needs.  Bob quit school in the 8th grade to help his family through the depression and never went back to school.  He was self taught -- yes, he had his mentors -- and was a quick study with a fantastic mechanical ability.  Virtually all of his early equipment and the majority of the equipment used in his DeLand FL shop was hand made from anything he could lay his hands on at various salvage businesses.  He was a true visionary and was 'always' trying new ideas to perfect his filament or come up with something new.  His age didn't hold him back and he often worked 14 (or more) hour days.  At the time of his passing, he was the only remaining manufacturer of 'true' carbon filaments in the world.  Bob's lamps can be found in Edison museums as replicas of Edisons' work, in theatres, upscale restaurants, restorations, etc, etc -- he touched many lives over the years and will continue to do so for many more.  His work will not disappear but will continue from within his family.  His lamps are retailed by several vendors in the U.S. and there is a web-site for the company at where "some" of his lamps are shown.  Others will be added to the site shortly to provide a glimpse of other lamps he provides to consumers world-wide.  Many of those who read this are well aware of Bob Kyp and have had the opportunity to meet him or talk with him.  He will surely be missed, but never forgotten.

Offline Chris Kocsis

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Don, was it you who a few years ago brought some bulbs to sell one March at the hamfest in Timonium, Maryland?  Was that at the time of the move to Florida?  I have been burning seven bulbs in two fixtures since then, for an hour or two every day, and only two have failed and needed to be replaced.  Robert gave us a truly excellent product and I am grateful for it.

Offline Don M

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Hello Chris ... I hope this information isn't duplicated as the screen went back to you original question midway through my reply.  Anyhow, let's try again.  First, No it wasn't me or anyone in Robert's (Bob) family that would have been at that hamfest --- to my knowledge.  Which bulb did you purchase?  We have several bulbs that were set up in a display in the shop when it moved to DeLand in approx 1993, these bulbs are burning to this day. We actually have one of his original Balafire Flickers that has been burning everyday [when the shop is open -- aside from the move and setup in DeLand] since 1979!  I wish you could have met Bob as he was truly passionate about his craft -- and yes, making the filaments by hand is a craft/art that takes a lot of patience and dexterity.  Fortunately, Bob passed on his knowledge to me and I continue to make "his" carbon filaments here in DeLand -- I share the passion he had with the filaments/bulbs.  If you have a chance, take a look at Facebook and search for Kyp-Go and you can view a video made by his granddaughter, some pics, and 'one' of the PBS documentaries that was done on the shop in DeLand -- I have a very small cameo on that video toward the end.  You mentioned Hamfest so I assume you are a Ham -- I once was (HP1XMD) and KA4OWL.  My father was a ham for 50+ years and I used it as a means of communication when I was overseas in the military for a long time.  If you are ever in DeLand, or near, shoot me an e-mail at and I would be glad to show you how we make the bulbs -- using the handmade equipment Bob developed for himself.

Offline Tim

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Here's a direct link to the Kyp-Go videos - wonderful work!

I'd still suggest stopping by the Kyp-Go Facebook page to say "Hello" for those of you with Facebook accounts.

Offline Chris Kocsis

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Whoever it was at the hamfest knew the family, from the way he talked.  But this was in the late 90s I think.  Anyway I am a staunch fan of Kyp-Go products.  I'm not a ham actually -- I just like to hang around electronics flea markets in hope of snagging interesting bulbs  :wink:

I do have a question, Don -- Can you divulge a good product or formula to use as a bulb basing cement?  I want to repair or rebase a few bulbs and want something I can keep around for a while and not have to use right away.

All the best,


Offline Don M

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Hello Chris,

Regarding the basing cement -- if you are willing to pay the shipping I'll send you some.  How about shooting me an E-Mail to and we'll go from there.


Offline Jonas Clark

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I ordered some old stock directly from Mr. Kyp in the late 1990s. He was really friendly, and was happy to just chat for a while. I had bought two Balafire bulbs over the years from a local science museum's gift shop, had found another in a junk shop, and was a fan of unusual light bulbs in general. I deeply regret never getting a chance to meet him. Watching the videos, I now understand the insane amount of work that went into, and experience that must have been gained by, making every bulb by hand.

Last year, I got some more bulbs from Don. He is also very friendly, and makes wonderful products. Thank you, Don, for carrying Robert Kyp's legacy of hand-made bulbs forward.

My final Balafire bulb display contains the following, all working and connected:
G-25 blue
G-25 "frosted grape"
G-30 clear (G-25-size filament)
G-30 frosted white w/ red "BAR" letters
A-19 dark blue
A-19 amber, inside mirror
T-10 clear
T-10 green, outside magnet (ABCO knockoff)
Hurricane, pale blue, outside magnet on ring over top, speed adjustable (unknown knockoff)
Flame, textured, clear
G-25 amber, inside mirror, sealed to glass radiometer pedestal w/ hard-wired cord and plug
In front of these are my Kyp radiometers:
Cube (four diamond vanes, black-and-white)
Cube, hanging on wire stand
Ring (two ring vanes, black-and-green)
American Flag (two vanes, w/ point on top of bulb)
Disk (two circular vanes, black-and-pink)

Bottom of the display shown is full of Aeroluxes.

Kyp's work shines. All I gotta find now are a 7-UP can lamp with a green G-bulb, a few of the candelabra-base Balafires, and one of Don's beautiful Electric Flames. Thank you, Don.

Offline KT66

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Great information here! I'll have to add one of the lamps to my collection.

Offline ActorMike

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Kyp's work shines. All I gotta find now are a 7-UP can lamp with a green G-bulb, a few of the candelabra-base Balafires, and one of Don's beautiful Electric Flames. Thank you, Don.

I had the can with the bulb in high school!

Do you know how many American Flag (two vanes, w/ point on top of bulb) he made? What are those worth?