I just read AC/DC The Savage Tale of the First Standards War

This is the interesting story of the battle to set the standard for electrical systems in America. The tale is both inspiring and frightening.


Photo credit: frenchbyte from morguefile.com

Here are three observations that I made:

  • Some people will abandon morality to feed their ego and pocket book. This is not news to us but the book is a good reminder of the extent that people will go to. An interesting part of the story was how part of the battle tried to prove systems to be both safe and a good choice for execution of criminals. I remember thinking, “Run that past me again…”
  • We should closely scrutinize people who drive our lives “forward”. Some of the famous names in this story have questionable pasts. The experiments to determine how much electricity could be withstood before death were hard to read.
  • What defines the “best” can change over time. As our technology has changed, our needs for how our energy is delivered has changed and continues to change.

The story of energy and electricity is far from over. Arguably, it has become more important as we are now dependent on it. It will be interesting to see how the rise of DC (think battery powered devices such as smart phones, laptops, etc) continues to erode the assumption that AC has won the war.

Photo credit: bobby from morguefile.com
The future may belong to the two standards working together such as DC battery banks which remain charged through AC power, then used to power AC devices.

Overall this was a pretty good read.

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