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Why Don’t Electric Lights Work As Well As My Gas Light?–The DIM-A-LITE

Here is another electrical item from days gone by. It’s an early electric light dimmer. There is a chain on each side. The chain rotates the outer body of the dimmer, sliding an internal contact against a resistive material. It is called the DIM-A-LITE and was patented in 1908.

The two predominant […]

Small Things Still Tell Stories

Sometimes small items have a lot to reveal. Take this simple light socket. It is officially known as a keyed socket (meaning that it has a switch). The old-style shape of this switch clarifies the old term “keyed” socket since the turn-switches were once shaped like a key.

This piece was made around 1903 […]

Another Electrical Mystery Item–The Gas Adapter

Just what is the item pictured below? It is not technologically advanced, but it represents a major shift in lighting technology. This adapter provided a cheap way of electrifying existing gas lights.

Here is a typical gas light.

We unscrew the jet from the valve, insert our little adapter, and screw the jet back […]

Shocking Yourself Back to Health–Medical Electricity

When electricity was new and strange (and before we had federal oversight of medical devices) many medical practitioners proclaimed electric current as the healer of all our ills. Scores of different machines were marketed on both sides of the Atlantic that shocked patients for medicinal purposes. These machines could give a gentle tingle to a […]