Every morning we wake up and automatically reach for the light switch without having a second thought. But imagine if that light switch wasn’t there. Where would we be without electricity? A huge step in the foundation of electricity occurred today in 1878 when The Edison Electric Light Company was opened in New York. It was here that Edison helped create the first effective incandescent bulb and a city electrical lighting system. Here’s a selection of books in recognition of this electric anniversary:
In 1882, Thomas Edison and his Edison Electric Light Company unveiled the first large-scale electrical system in the world to light a stretch of offices in a city. This was a monumental achievement, but it was not the beginning of the electrical age. After laying out a unified theoretical framework for understanding technological change, Schiffer presents a series of fascinating case studies of pre-Edison electrical technologies, including Volta's electrochemical battery, Thomas Davenport's electric motor, the first mechanical generators, Morse's telegraph, the Atlantic cable, and the lighting of the dome of the U.S. Capitol.
Where were you when the lights went out? At home during a thunderstorm? Preparing for an air attack during World War II? During the Great Northeastern Blackout of 1965? In California when rolling blackouts hit in 2000? We often remember vividly our time in the dark. In When the Lights Went Out, David Nye views power outages in America from 1935 to the present not simply as technical failures but variously as military tactic, social disruption, crisis in the networked city, outcome of political and economic decisions, sudden encounter with sublimity, and memories enshrined in photographs.
The Languages of Edison's Light
Charles Bazerman tells the story of the emergence of electric light as one of symbols and communication. He examines how Edison and his colleagues represented light and power to themselves and to others as the technology was transformed from an idea to a daily fact of life.
Americans take for granted that when we flip a switch the light will go on, when we turn up the thermostat the room will get warm, and when we pull up to the pump gas will be plentiful and relatively cheap. In The End of Energy, Michael Graetz shows us that we have been living an energy delusion for forty years.
A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, 1882-1982
Karl Wildes and Nilo Lindgren
Electrical engineering is a protean profession. Today the field embraces many disciplines that seem far removed from its roots in the telegraph, telephone, electric lamps, motors, and generators. To a remarkable extent, this chronicle of change and growth at a single institution is a capsule history of the discipline and profession of electrical engineering as it developed worldwide.
In the late 1990s, the formerly staid and monopolistic electric utility industry entered an era of freewheeling competition and deregulation, allowing American consumers to buy electricity from any company offering it. In this book, Richard F. Hirsh explains how and why this radical restructuring has occurred.
Imagining Tomorrow: History, Technology, and the American Future
Edited by Joseph J. Corn
The history of the future is the history of a society's imagination, and Imagining Tomorrow takes a lively and informative look at the future as envisioned in the American past. Some of the technologies discussed are x-rays, radio, plastics, the electric light, and nuclear power.