How the Taming of Lightning Shaped the Modern World

J. B. Williams

THE ELECTRIC CENTURY: How the Taming of Lightning Shaped the Modern World This book is about how electricity has profoundly changed the way we live, work, and play. Some twenty topics are covered, with an abundance of graphs and images to build a comprehensive picture. Each looks at the developments, and the peope who initiated them, together with how one led to the next and their subsequent impact on society. Topics include electric supply, lighting through X-rays, and all those appliances that make our homes so comfortable.

Most homes at the end of the twentieth century were full of electical equipment, much of which was regarded as essential. It ran from lights, washing machines, fridges, freezers, kettles, telephones and so on, to the more subtle things such as wipers and starter motors on cars. In 1900, in all but a tiny minority of houses, there were none of these things. It is very difficult for us now to imagine a world without electrical equipment everywhere, and yet it has only taken a century. The Electric Century examines how we got from then to now.

The nineteenth is often described as the century of steam from the impact it had on employment and transport, and The Electric Century makes a similar claim as the description of the twentieth. Electricity and the equipment using it are so pervasive that they have affected every corner of modern life.

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables

1. Introduction
2. Chaotic Beginnings
3. Lighting that Doesn't Need Lighting
4. Streetcars, Subways, Trains and Suburbs
5. First You Have to Make It: The Spread of the Electricity Supply
6. Beginnings of Mass Production: Electric Power in Industry
7. Early Mass Media: Newspapers and Cinema
8. The Catless Miaow: Wireless Telegraphy
9. Healthy? Early Medical Electricity
10. Portable Power: Batteries
11. A Good Investment: Electricity Grids
12. Willing Servants: The Growth of Appliances in the 1930s
13. Blackout: War and Crisis in Electric Power Generation
14. Give Someone a Bell: Telephones
15. Horseless Carriages: Road Vehicles
16. Too cheap to Meter? Nuclear Power and Beyond
17. Keeping it Fresh: Fridges and Freezers
18. Banishing Washday: Home Laundry
19. Going Up... or Down: Elevators and Escalators
20. Gadgets: Small Household Appliances
21. Freedom of the House: Central Heating and Air Conditioning
22. Power Tools and the DIY Revolution
23. The Electric Century


Extent: 216 pages, Black and white images integrated with text
Binding: Paperback
Published: 2017
ISBN: 978-3-319-51154-2

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