Friday, January 16, 2009

January 16, 1909 - Electric Light

100 Years Ago Today: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Electricity For Lighting
is Economical, Safe, Convenient and Healthful.
No leakage to cause disagreeable odors, no matches, good or bad, no broken mantles or chimneys. In fact, none of the bad features common to other methods of lighting. Have your house wired at once. An estimate will cost you nothing.
W. F. Sanderson 1423 Broadway, Rensselaer

As you can see from this 1909 advertisement, the light bulb was about to replace gas lighting in local homes.

As the technology emerged in the late 1880's, a huge "War of the Currents" took place between the developers of Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). Thomas Edison, whose business success was built on DC technology, went so far as to publicly electrocute animals and commission the invention of the electric chair, all to discourage the adoption of AC power.

Lavish lighting displays were tourist attractions at events like the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Expo's illuminated buildings were powered by George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla's AC system. (Their bid came in at half the cost of General Electric's DC technology.)

The low voltage of DC meant it couldn't be transmitted more than a mile or so. The multitude of transmission wires was the largest cost of the system when Edison's Pearl Street Station was established in Manhattan. (image of NYC wires from Great Blizzard of 1888).

The 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo was powered by the new Tesla generators at the Niagara Falls Power Company, effectively demonstrating that AC could economically deliver electricity across many miles.

No comments: