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How Dr. John Nash Ott grew a pumpkin, saved a princess, and created the first-ever natural daylight light bulb

Before becoming the leader in photobiology and the founder of OttLite, Dr. John Nash Ott was a banker whose hobbies included cinematography and time-lapse photography. He liked to use the word serendipity (we like to use it, too—it’s fun to say) to describe how those interests helped spark a lifelong commitment to the science of photobiology.

When Dr. Ott was asked by Walt Disney to record a pumpkin’s growth for the famous carriage transformation scene in Cinderella, he already knew a lot about time-lapse photography, but he didn’t know much about pumpkin plants. Undeterred, he started experimenting with the lighting in his greenhouse to optimize the plants' growth. Changing the light one way made all the plants male, another made them all female. Fascinating stuff, but it wasn't going to get Cinderella to the ball.

Then, Dr. Ott made a discovery... with the right blend of contrast and brightness, he could bring natural sunlight indoors. The pumpkins grew, Cinderella got to the ball, and Dr. Ott pioneered the field of photobiology. If sunlight held the key to healthy plants, Dr. Ott reasoned, maybe it could help people too. It turns out, he was right. Natural daylight is as essential to people as it is to pumpkins, affecting everything from our cells’ growth to our mood. Vital nutrients in sunshine let us focus and feel healthy and happy. Daylight helps us sleep better at night, breaks down toxins in our bodies, and may even help lower cholesterol.

All of that from pumpkins in a greenhouse. Now, what to do with this amazing discovery? Share it with the world!

In 1989 Dr. Ott founded OttLite Technologies to market his one-of-a-kind natural sunlight bulb. We thought about calling it the Sunny-Goodness bulb, but decided on 508 Natural Sunlight Illumination instead. We continue Dr. Ott’s legacy by providing lights that bring sunny goodness indoors. They’re good for you, and they’re also good for the environment. Nice combo, right?

Dr. Ott believed that by seeing better and feeling better, people could do what they love longer. And we believe that getting to do what you love—whether it’s reading, writing, sewing, knitting, drawing, or growing magical pumpkins—is what life is really all about.