The earliest headlight technology was essentially a lantern with a reflecting mirror. This focused the light source though an opening in the lantern, but because there were no lenses at this time, the beam was fairly unfocused and there was significant scattering of the light. This, combined with the low-candlepower light sources of the time, meant that they were a weak, low-speed-only means of illumination – unfocused and with poor range. Plus, a good gust of wind or a wayward splash of water could snuff the flame.
From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by .