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Introduction

The first commercial electrical power system began on September 4, 1882. It was introduced by Thomas Edison. The plant produced 100 kilowatts of power and lit 50 incandescent lamps, but had a capacity to light 1,200. This generating station produced direct current (DC). Electric lighting expanded rapidly as a result. Until then there was lighting from candles, kerosene or similar fuel and from gas.

In 1888 Nicola Tesla and George Westinghouse created a system that produced alternating current (AC). It could transfer power over longer distances than DC current.

Soon electric shock and electrical fires led to a need for standards to improve electrical safety.

The first known electrical code was published in 1882. The New York Board of Fire Underwriters adopted it on January 12, 1882 and the National Board of Fire Underwriters endorsed it on May 25, 1882. The full text appears at the end of this article.

Read the complete story in the January 2021 Issue of the Archives.

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