Nothing remains the same

Never would have figured out the Nash automatic on my own a few houses around had the crank phones, we never had phones till the sixties(then we had a Partyline) then at the third place we moved to we didnt have phones till the seventies or late sixties,I honestly dont know when touch tone arrived(the partylines were quite amusing at times-some people loved to eavesdrop for entertainment) [ah the good old days]But this tends to prove that market and consumer feedback are important for commerce-Kevin

@keith - isn’t some 220v 50 hz, and some 60 hz? I read that was one additional cause of electrical power shortages in Japan after the earthquake: On side is 50 hz, the other 60 hz, so they couldn’t share power.

Yep, here’s the map:

That is true about Japan. After WWII the US electrified the eastern side and the Europeans (British) electrified the eastern half. Please don’t ask why the US is 60 Hz and Europe is 50 Hz. There are a lot of theories/stories but no one knows for sure. The reason was lost to history though a couple of stories are the most accepted.

BTW, as for rotary dial phones, they date back to 1891 with the invention of the Strowger (SXS) switch, but a lot of the country used live operators through the 50’s. When I was a young kid, I could pick up the phone and ask for my granddaddy, the operator would recognize my voice and knew who my granddaddy was and whether he was likely to be at home or at the fire station, and sometimes that operator was my mother.

At one time, there were parts of the United States that had 25 Hz power. There was a generating plant in Keokuck, Iowa that produced 25 Hz power. I can remember visiting a little community in Illinois where the lights constantly flickered. My dad tole me that the power was 25 cycle as compared to our town of 60 cycle power.
I did have an electrical engineer tell me that 60 Hz power was easier to divide into phases as is done with three phase power as opposed to 50 Hz power.

@Triedaq : Yes, I remember doing my homework under that 25 Hz light; it flickered just enough to drive you crazy. The conversion took place in the 50s, I recall.

When traveling with a US computer, don’t take the 120/240 voltage reading on your power cord for granted. I overheated mine in a 220 volt country, and after returning home bought a new cord from Dell for $60. Before throwing out the old one I tested it and on 110 volts it worked just fine. The cords you buy overseas have a better capacity and don’t overheat!

Some of the most ridiculous devices I’ve seen are aftermarket car stereos. My '95 Civic had the aftermarket stereo that the previous owner put in, I won’t say the brand name, but it rhymes with eye and ear. Naturally, the owner’s manual was lost in history. I had that car for a couple years and drove it 40,000 miles and I could not figure out how to set the clock on that stereo to save my soul! I e-mailed the company that made it, and the best they would do was to offer me an owner’s manual for $40. I replied with the question: You mean your stereos have an interface that is so unintuitive that I have to buy a $40 owner’s manual to set the #$%&ing CLOCK?!

That said, I’m with Texases. If stuff is standardized, the standard might not be very good, and it may be VERY difficult to get approval to make improvements. I’d rather keep it away from the bureaucrats!

I want every car and motorcycle to come with self-adjusting valves.

With you 100% on metric, but I happen to believe the “probably won’t kill you” aspects of 110V outweigh the “somewhat less copper needed” aspects of 220.

(Besides I scrap for money…)

Regardless of the history that gave us 120V, those 220 plugs and outlets all over Europe are just plain ugly-no doubt about it. 220 using less copper? Don’t think so.

It’s not the plugs, it’s the wires that can be thinner for 220v. Just like 12v system wires in today’s cars can be thinner than 6v system wires. And there’s LOTS of wire for each plug.

FYI, a little history on the frequency of AC electricity. In the early days, the frequency used by various utilities around the country was anywhere from 25 Hz to 266 Hz. at the turn of the century, single phase generators could produce the higher frequencies, but poly phase generators could only produce 25 HZ. Eventually the 60 Hz three phase generator was developed and adopted as the standard for use in the US.

Go to wikipedia and search for “Current Wars”. There are a lot of interesting stories about the early days of the current war between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Its entertaining reading. A really good book on this era is the biography of Tesla.

I remember reading about how Edison practically invented the electric chair in his “war” against Westinghouse. Said when they put them in the chair, they were getting ‘Westinghoused’. And that the screw-in fixtures for lightbulbs are still used to this day.