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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Radium-Action Lighter  
  A personal device used to ignite tobacco products.  

During the pre-war era, there was a lot of talk about atomic devices of various kinds.

...she held out a little cylinder of black metal. It was a radium-action lighter for cigarettes.

"I've got a hunch. This can make a coal of intense heat - like a forge in miniature."

Then he switched on the lighter, and held it directly against the little tag of iron. The key grew red, then livid white, finally waxy soft as the heat melted it.

From The Worlds of Tomorrow, by Manly Wade Wellman.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1940
Additional resources -

Compare to the pocket nucleo-bulb penlight from Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Worlds of Tomorrow
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