1950: The turning point in light and power

By P.B. Garrett, Editor (Jan. 1950)

At the half-century turning point, the pattern through which equipment designers, system engineers and operators hope to keep the electric power industry ahead of the ever-increasing demand for its services (and at the same time in the sound financial condition essential to its physical expansion) has emerged from the organized confusion of the postwar era.

Basically, the objectives of providing adequate service of the quality and amount demanded by the 42 million customers of the industry in the face of an inflationary price spiral has resulted in clearly defined trends throughout all phases of electric utility operations. Manufacturers have found ways and means of working materials harder with the resultant lowering of costs and increasing of efficiency.


Reaching out for qualification as climbers, Boston Edison Company line school candidates assume working position on the sixth day of training. Engineer Roy Keddy directs with megaphone while line truck supervisor Ed Wilfert watches for errors. Candidates transferred from other departments. (EL&P Industry Report, April 1, 1956, page 27.)
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Better know-how, coupled with more accurate measuring and testing procedures has resulting in improved performance of equipment. Increased reliability, in turn, permits cost savings in stand-by units and their connections to the system.

Better use of the industry’s manpower has been obtained through mechanization of construction and maintenance operations, greater standardization, and marked increase in the acceptance of factory-assembled equipment. Computers and analyzers have reduced time and labor in the solution of system design problems, as well as predetermining equipment arrangements for optimum performance.


Fellas, I want you to meet Miss Electric Gift Housewares of 1951, otherwise known as Marylin Hampton. She occupied a box at the NEMA January Housewares Show at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Miss Hampton has many other interests in and around Chicago. Greatest of these is her work as an actress on WGN TV. It was her television experience which enabled Miss Hampton to bring such aplomb and savoir faire to the role of Miss Electric Gift Housewares. (EL&P, March 1951, page 124.)
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The growing adoption of automatic equipment and centralized control has effected marked economies in operating costs and greatly improved electrical performance. Mobility, both for certain types of equipment and for field crews through the adoption of communication equipment, has become an industry standard.


Vitamin D to order. A healthful dose of sunshine, via the sun lamp, helps fortify young bodies against colds during dull winter days. (EL&P, June 1952, page 187.)
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An important and lasting contribution toward decreased operating and maintenance cost has been made in the use of mechanical equipment for the construction and maintenance of distribution circuits. Included among these are multiple pavement drills, mechanized trenchers, pavement breakers, especially designed drill and boom arrangements (which enable a completely framed pole to be erected in one operation), truck-mounted, high-frequency power tools to assist reframing of structures, and special hoisting devices.

As in all industries, electrical utilities are striving to increase worker productivity by substituting mechanical for human energy and providing more efficient tools to the end that the cost for its ultimate product, the kWh, can be kept to a minimum. Reducing the two major increments of that cost, fixed capital expense and distribution expense, still offer vast possibilities for profitable study. Progress in that direction, that has characterized the postwar years, promises a rich return from the continuing explorations that have in the past built the electrical industry to its present important place in the country’s economy.


What’s more luxurious than a warm bathroom on a chilly morning? It’s yours at the flick of a switch with the circulating air heater. (EL&P, June 1952, page 187.)
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