Past Predictions about the Future of Electricity

On March 29, 1879, a widely circulated newspaper called the American Register published a scathing editorial stating that “it is doubtful if electricity will ever be [widely] used.” That statement apparently was based on the fact that electricity was too expensive to generate in 1879.

Several months later, the Select Committee on Lighting and Electricity in the British House of Commons held hearings on electricity, with experts stating that there was not “the slightest chance” that the world would run on electric power generation. In 1879, electricity was still considered an expensive fantasy.

Thomas Edison contradicted those statements a few months later, on New Years Eve. Edison publicly unveiled his incandescent light bulb in Menlo Park. At the time he allegedly stated “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

It strikes me that none of those opposing predictions was accurate.

2 Comments

I believe it was in the late 1950s that atomic power was going to generate so much electricity so cheaply that it was expected to be “too cheap to meter”!

Liked by 1 person

    I grew up in the 1950s. Yes nuclear power was cheap in those days before Big Government & Big Lawyers imposed all those big fees and taxes etc over the decades which have priced new nuclear plants out of existence. I have a Master’s degree in nuclear engineering but couldn’t get a job in that so I became a rocket scientist in Huntsville, AL (Marshall Space Flight Center) and worked under Werner von Braun on the Saturn V-Apollo programs.
    Unfortunately I think the same fate may before fusion power plants!

    Like

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