Fireworks displays are 1,000 years in the making: Modern technology perfects an ancient Chinese invention
As the legend goes, it all began with bamboo shoots and evil spirits.
When fireworks originated in China, they were not much more than tubes of bamboo packed with black powder. Still, their blast was so ferocious that firecrackers were thought to dispel demons.
Now, 1,000 years later, throngs of visitors are expected to line the banks of the Charles River Wednesday to see pyrotechnicians blast shells into the night, painting the Boston skyline with resplendent sparks.
The art of fireworks has evolved dramatically in the last millennium, from the fields of Asia to Renaissance workshops in Italy. Modern displays like the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular have benefited from years of advances in chemistry and circuitry.
“It’s truly a synthesis of thousands of years of effort,” said John Steinberg, former president of the nonprofit Pyrotechnics Guild International, which brings together amateur and professional fireworks enthusiasts.