When you live up at 9,200 ft just three telephone poles from the end of the grid and a double winter storm is barreling down across the four corners and last year a similar storm took your power out for 14 days and nights you do a bit more than stock up on candles and batteries. Then when spring comes and a massive forest fire shuts down all power for weeks on end shutting off you wells pumps you do a little more than buy a few cases of bottled water. So I've spent the last year researching sustanible, eco-friendly alternative energy sources.
In 1831, Michael Faraday devised a machine that generated electricity from rotary motion, but it took almost 50 years for the technology to reach a commercially viable stage. In 1878, in the US, Thomas Edison developed and sold a commercially viable replacement for gas lighting and heating using locally generated and distributed direct current electricity.
The Edison plant supplied its light through incandescent lamps. In 1882, a similar kind of lighting, in an improved form, was proposed for Los Angeles by Charles L. Howland, initially representing a San Francisco based company, the California Electric Light Company (now PG&E). Howland would within a year incorporate with other investors and form his own company, Los Angeles Electric Company. This would become LA's first electric utility.
In the fall of 1878, after experiments indicated that existing arc light generators were inefficient for incandescent lighting Edison and his chief assistants, Charles Batchelor and Francis Upton, investigated generator design and the principles of electromagnetism. During the first months of 1879, Edison designed a dynamo that differed in important ways from contemporary designs. Many contemporary electrical experts thought a generator would work best when its internal electrical resistance was equal to the external resistance of the circuit. This view was based on the understanding that the maximum power output for any given battery occurred when its internal resistance matched that of the rest of the circuit. Generators with equal internal and external resistance generated maximum current, but because Edison considered the economic efficiency of his system to be related to the number of lamps per horsepower, he determined that a generator with a small internal resistance would produce more efficient power output.
But in July of 883, the same month my paternal Grandfather was born, our old friend Thomas Edison patented the electrical generator and it was a wonder to behold.
The patent was issued by the United States Patent Office on July 17, 1883. Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. It was hardly portable, noisy, required a great deal of adjustment and maintenence and was fueled by dirty, nasty coal, hardly, eco-friendly.
Fast forward to the 1950's when portable electric generators like the one below truly became, portable!
If you ever had to carry one you might disagree on their "portability" and if you ever had to start one in a huricane you're probably swearing at this ad right now but still, a technological wonder for it's day yet ran on gas or kerosene, leaking oil and noxious puffs of blue smoke in your face when started and noisey, very noisey. Let's not forget the oft dismissed of all polutions, sound. Many a night up at our family cabin in the Adirondacks did I stand holding a flashlight in the rain while my Pop muttered inappropriate things at ours until a good swift kick got it backfiring and sputtering away in the dark woods sending forest creatures off surrying deeper into the night only to repeat the process about once an hour when the fuel ran out and the lights went out again.
The 1980's belonged to those crafty engineers at Honda when they truly produced a "Portable" solution as demonstrated in this ad very subliminally by the man carrying it with one hand. Didn't "quite" fit in the "palm of your hand" as the ad boasted but truth in advertising was just becomming a "thing" then.
I'm going to close this out now and let you all remember fonldy you childood memories of holding that flashlight for your Dad's in the rain and the first time you heard many words now in your vocabulary as he skinned a few knuckles while trying to extract a fouled sparkplug out of your childood generator.
To be continued....