Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Edison G.E. attempted to prevent the development of alternating current by unscrupulous political action and by even less savoury promotional tactics. In both arenas Edison G.E. attempt to damn a.c. on the ground that its high voltage – wherein lay its technical superiority – was dangerous, a menace to public safety... The promotional activity was a series of spectacular stunts aimed at dramatising the deadliness of high voltage alternating current, the most sensational being the development and promotion of the electric chair as a means of executing criminals. The state of New York adopted this innovation in 1888 after a gruesome promotional campaign, conceived by Insull, Johnson, and Edison, and carried out by a German-American named Thurington and H.P. Brown, one of Edison's former lab assistants.

from Insull by Forrest MacDonald

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