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Webnotes 4-1 to 4-4

Webnote 4-1   |   Webnote 4-2   |   Webnote 4-3

Webnote 4-4


Webnote 4-1

Sources of information about gas lighting:

  • Bowers, Brian, Lengthening The Day, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • Bright, Arthur A. Jr., The Electric-Lamp Industry: Technological Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947, (New York: MacMillan Co., 1949).
  • Schivelbusch, Wolfgang, Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century, trans., Angela Davies, (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1988).

  • Duncan, Robert Kennedy, "Some Rare Elements and Their Application," in Harper's, August 1906, V.113, #675, p.417.

  • The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan.

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Webnote 4-2

Sources of information about electric lamp competition in the 19th century:

  • Bowers, Brian, Lengthening The Day, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • Bright, Arthur A. Jr., The Electric-Lamp Industry: Technological Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947, (New York: MacMillan Co., 1949).
  • Fleming, J. A., Electric Lamps and Electric Lighting, 2nd ed., (London: The Electrician Printing & Publishing Co., Ltd., 1899).
  • Hammond, Robert, The Electric Light in Our Homes, (New York: R. Worthington, 1884).
  • Jones, Robert, and Oliver Marriott, Anatomy of a Merger: A History of G.E.C., A.E.I., and English Electric, (London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1970).
  • McCarthy, Thomas E., The History of GTE: The Evolution Of One Of America's Great Corporations, (Stamford, CT: GTE Corporation, 1990).
  • Passer, Harold C., The Electrical Manufacturers, 1875-1900, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1953).
  • Stocking, G. W., and M. W. Watkins, Cartels in Action: Case Studies in International Business Diplomacy, (New York: The Twentieth Century Fund, 1946; reprint, Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprint Co., 1975).

  • The Electrical Age.
  • The Electrical Engineer.
  • Electrical Merchandising.
  • Electrical Review, (New York).
  • Electrical Review, (London).
  • Scientific American.
  • Western Electrician.
  • Anderson, John M., and John S. Saby, "The electric lamp: 100 years of applied physics," in Physics Today, October 1979.
  • Halbertsma, N. A., "The Birth of a Lamp Factory in 1891," in Philips Technical Review, February/March 1962, V.23, #8/9, p.222.
  • Oetting, R. L., "Electric Lighting in the First Century of Engineering," in Proceedings of The American Institute of Electrical Engineering, November 1952, V.71, pt.2, p. 269.
  • Reich, Leonard S., "Lighting the Path to Profit: GE's Control of the Electric Lamp Industry, 1892-1941," in Business History Review, v.66, Summer 1992, p. 305-34.
  • Staff, "Scientific Research of Philips' Industries from 1891 to 1951," in Philips Technical Review, July/August 1951, V.13, #1, p.3.

  • Electricity Collections, National Museum of American History.
  • The William J. Hammer Collection, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan.
  • Archives and Collections of the Mt. Vernon Museum of Incandescent Lighting, (Baltimore, MD).

  • GE NELA Park Files. Electricity Collections, National Museum of American History.
  • The William J. Hammer Collection. Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
  • Lighting Research Files. Electricity Collections, National Museum of American History.

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Webnote 4-3

As indicated in the text, alternating and direct current co-existed as practical sources of electricity for arc lighting in the 1870s and were seen as viable alternatives for incandescent lighting in the 1880s. That is, as long as the AC frequency wasn't so low that the light would visibly flicker.

Until 1888 the arguments from both sides were based on the various practical and economic merits.  But in the fall of 1887 a proposal was made to substitute electrocution for hanging in New York State as a more humane form of execution.  Edison supported this view, emphasizing that alternation current would be more effective.  In 1888 he allowed Harold Brown, an electrician who had developed strong feelings about the dangers of AC, to perform experiments in his laboratory.  And Edison was a tacit advocate of inflammatory arguments that Brown and others made.

The success of Tesla's motor, and the failure to discover a means of storing electricity, made the arguments in favor of alternating current overwhelming for central stations and by 1890 Edison had reversed his stand and was beginning to develop his own AC system.  The merger of the Edison company with Thomson-Houston in 1892, and the adoption of AC at Niagara Falls (the first generator was installed in 1895) determined the future direction. However, direct current would remain necessary for electrochemical processes and also for street railroads.

For more on the AC-DC controversy see

  • Thomas Hughes, "Harold Brown and the Executioner's Current: An Incident in the AC-DC Controversy," Business History Review 32, pp. 143-65.
  • Terry Reynolds and Theodore Bernstein, "Edison and the Chair," IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 8 (1989), pp. 19-28.
  • W. Bernard Carlson and A. J. Millard, "Defining Risk within a Business Context: Thomas A. Edison, Elihu Thomson, and the AC-DC Controversy, 1885-1900," in B. B. Johnson and V. T. Covello (eds.),
  • The Social and Cultural Construction of Risk (Boston: Reidel, 1987), pp. 275-93.
  • Paul Israel, Edison: A Life of Invention (New York: John Wiley, 1998) especially pp. 321-337.

See also other biographies of Edison and biographies of Tesla listed in Bibliography section. 

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Webnote 4-4

Sources of information about transformers:

  • A. A. Halacsy and G. H. von Fuchs, "Transformer Invented 75 Years Ago," Electrical Engineering 80 (June, 1961), pp. 404-407.

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