What would become known as the Prest-o-lite Battery Company, Inc., in this 1941 advertisement began as the Concentrated Acetylene Company, a business venture between James Allison, Carl Fisher, and P.C. Avery. The business originated in 1906 from Avery’s idea to equip cars with nighttime driving lights by means of acetylene compressed into portable containers. The Concentrated Acetylene Company was located at the corner of 28th and Pennsylvania Streets.
In 1907, Avery left the company and Allison and Fisher renamed the business Prest-o-lite after the acetylene canisters that had become a mainstay in the American automobile industry. An explosion near a Prest-o-lite factory on the south side of Indianapolis forced (by way of city ordinance banning the manufacture of acetylene within the city limits) the company to move to the outskirts of Indianapolis, near a field that would later become the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In 1917, Prest-o-lite joined National Carbon Company, Inc., Union Carbide Company, Electro Metallurgical Company, and the Linde Air Products Company to become the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation. Allison and Fisher left the company once the new corporation was formed; likely they were busy with a new business venture, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (and, of course, Allison went on to found Allison Transmissions).
By the time this ad ran in the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce Bulletin, Prest-o-lite was a subsidiary of Electric Autolite, which owns the name today. By 1960, Prest-o-lite was manufactured in fourteen different locations around the world, eight of which were located in the United States.
Today, the company name that started in Indianapolis from an idea to power headlights is now Prestolite, Inc., headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, and manufactures alternators, starters, and electrical automotive equipment.