Ballast Necessity?

Hi everyone

Pertinent to the recent discussion of ballast specs, I have started doubting
the necesity of ballasts altogether.  I have ( amongst shoplites ) a GE
Brightstick, which is a 24inch fluorescent bulb with no ballast, but it
apparently has a starter ( a little flashlight lamp looking thing )

How does this thing work then? It seems like everywhere elese people use

I actually had to rip the Brightstick apart to put a full spectrum bulb in
it, and in the process I lost a little capacitor or something like that, but
this did not affect it's operatoin.  Go figure.