Misguided Mercy: The War of Currents and the Electric Chair

I made this!  (That’s my lovely mumblecore voice, even!)

This was a final group project for one of my classes in library science school; pretty nifty no?  You can see three semesters’ worth of these podcasts on the miNY Stories blog, so lots of interesting quickies about New York history to choose from.

Anyway, it’s my last week of the semester, so bear with me as posts are a bit fewer and further between. I’ll be all done after next Monday! Until summer classes start at least…  : P


Chantalle Uzan, Sebastian Moya, Jenny Ferretti, and Leah Castaldi

At the turn of the 19th century, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and their associates raced to electrify the world. Out of their patent wars, company rivalries, and competing currents, the electric chair was born.

Edison and Westinghouse were fierce rivals, as businessmen and inventors. The meat of their competition lay in the electrical currents used by their companies; Edison Electric Light Company used the Direct Current while Westinghouse Electric Corporation used an Alternating Current.

“All generators produce AC internally. In this basic AC generator, the arms of the loop cut lines of force in opposite directions, causing electromotive force of opposite polarity to be generated in the conductor.”

Edison’s Direct Current was transmitted by expensive, heavy copper wires, which they buried underground. Westinghouse’s method could deliver electricity over greater distances more cheaply, but their wires were kept above ground…

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