Statistics of Electrical Manufactures

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Western Electrician

Chicago, IL, United States
vol. 28, no. 1, p. 12, col. 1-3



Future electrical historians will have no such epoch-making discovery as the voltaic pile of 1800 to describe in considering the closing year of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, electrical advancement has been general, healthy and satisfactory. In pure science investigation is making along the various wave theories of electricity and in considering the intimate relation of electricity, light, heat, chemical effects and other natural forces. In applied electricity the tendency is toward a larger use of polyphase systems, larger dynamo-electric machines and longer power-transmission circuits. Along commercial lines the year has been a very prosperous one to electrical interests, both at home and abroad. A table showing the electrical manufacturing business of the year in the United States is given in the next column.

At the Paris Exposition of 1900 Paulsen's telegraphone was the electrical novelty. By this device the sounds in a telephone receiver are magnetically reproduced, making a sort of telephone and phonograph combination, and many persons think that it may be the forerunner of the long-sought telephone relay. Szczepanik's "telectroscope," to enable one to see distant objects by the electrical transmission of light-wave impulses, was not exhibited. This device has been talked about for several years, but appears to have no tangible existence as yet. A feature of the Paris Exposition was the attention paid to polyphase systems. There were a number of large generators of this type, the largest being of 3,000 kilowatts' capacity. One dynamo was wound for an output of 30,000 volts. Three-phase induction motors of all sizes and for voltages up to 6,000 were shown in variety. There were also some single-phase motors on exhibition. Three-phase motors have been applied to railway work (mounted on the cars) in Switzerland, and a two-phase, 5,000-volt motor of the large capacity of 1,000 horsepower has been installed in the municipal pumping station at Geneva in that country.

At the Paris International Congress the names "gauss" for the practical unit of magnetic intensity and "maxwell" for the practical unit of magnetic flux were adopted. Pleasant meetings of American and English electrical engineers were held in London and Paris.

Electric railroading continues to show a marvelous extension in all civilized countries. Long lines with alternating-current transmission, substations and direct-current motors are building in various parts of the United States. Many cities and towns are now connected by electric railways, and it will not be long before the missing links between Chicago and Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit, Boston and New York and New York and Philadelphia will be built. Then will come, doubtless, a consolidation of systems. The electric-railway situation in the United States to-day is much like the short-line building of the early days of the steam railroad. Foreign activity in electric-railway building is hardly less marked. The Central London underground system and the Metropolitan underground road of Paris were both put in operation during the year, as well as the Northwestern Elevated in Chicago. Work was begun on the New York rapid-transit subway, and satisfactory progress has been made in equipping the Manhattan elevated-railroad system in New York for electrical operation. A suspended electric railway was built and put in operation in Elberfeld, Germany. Great projects for electric underground railways in London are under consideration. One interesting feature of the year was the final abandonment of the storage-battery traction experiment in Chicago.

In lighting, the Nernst lamp shows much improvement, but is not yet on the market. Much attention has been paid to the alternating-current series arc lamp, and the position of the direct-current arc, whether open or enclosed, is seriously threatened for outdoor lighting.

During the year the British government signed a contract for the laying of an all-British Pacific cable. The American transpacific-cable projects are still in abeyance, unfortunately. In telegraphy improvements in Rowland's printing telegraph, the Pollak-Virag system and the telautograph are to be noted. There has been considerable advancement in typewriting telegraphs.

In the telephone field, particularly in the United States, great activity is shown. Extensions and improvements are making in all directions, both by Bell companies and the Independents. One increasing use of the telephone is in the transmission of train orders on railroad systems, and a promising field seems to be opening up in this direction. During the year the American Bell Telephone company has been merged into the American Telephone and Telegraph company, and in February the Erie Telegraph and Telephone company was absorbed by the Telephone, Telegraph and Cable company. The latter event was especially important, indicating, as it did, the strength and importance of the non-Bell interests. The famous Berliner case was argued in November, 1899, and a decision was expected during the year, but has not yet appeared.

Space telegraphy is making way slowly. Marconi is reported to have dispensed with the upright wires or antennae, and distances up to 90 miles have been covered.




Electric power transmission is now accomplished, in practice, up to 80 miles, and at the Snoqualmie Falls plant, in the state of Washington, a motor was operated over a circuit of 153 miles during the year. This was done merely as an experiment on existing lines to Seattle and Tacoma, coupled together, and is believed to be the longest power transmission yet attained. Some increase in the use of aluminum for bare-wire transmission circuits is reported.

Electric automobiles were somewhat improved and greatly increased in number during 1900. They are now widespread in the United States, France, Germany and other countries and promise to play a conspicuous part in the new century, although some desirable improvements are still to be made. A number of important automobile exhibitions during the year demonstrated the extent and importance of the motor-vehicle industry.

Other features of the year of especial interest are the absorption of the Siemens & Halske Electric company of America by the General Electric company in April, the decision sustaining the Tesla polyphase-motor patent by the United States Circuit Court of Connecticut in August, and the awarding of a contract for an electric elevator for the Washington monument, to have a lift of 498 feet.


The electrical manufacturing business of the United States including non-electrical apparatus used essentially and exclusively in the generation or utilization of electricity shows, for 1900, an increase of 23 1/2 per cent. in the value of the output, as compared with 1899, the figures being $153,000,000 and $123,800,000, respectively. In the adjoining table careful estimates of the value of electrical and strictly allied manufactures made in or imported into the United States in the years 1900 and 1899 are given.

All of the estimates are conservative and prepared from a large number of sources. They represent the best approximation of electrical manufactures that it is possible to obtain, and show that, prosperous as was the year 1899, the year 1900 has exceeded it in a very satisfactory manner.


The classification of the Treasury Department is such that it is difficult to obtain exact statistics of the exports of electrical goods from the United States. From figures that are obtainable, however, it is known that the electrical exports of 1900 amounted to about $11,000,000 in value, compared with about $7,000,000 in 1899. This increase of 57 per cent. is most gratifying. The $11,000,000 is about equally divided between electrical machinery, on the one hand, and telephones, telegraphs, instruments, line material and other classes of electrical apparatus on the other. Estimates of imports are given in the table, and show a total of $651,000 for 1900. It is very clear that the United States is a seller of electrical goods, rather than a buyer.


The most noted name among those of electrical men who have died during the year is that of David E. Hughes,the inventor of the microphone, who died in London on January 23d, aged 69. Other foreign electrical men of prominence who passed away in 1900 were Emile Andreoli, French electrician, noted for work in storage batteries and electrolytic processes; who died in February, aged 65, and Bruno Abdank-Abakanocwicz, a well-known Polish electrical engineer, who died at his home in Paris in September, at the age of 45.

Among Americans the following-named may be mentioned:

January 8th S. Dana Greene of Schenectady, N. Y., general sales manager General Electric company, aged 36.

February 8th George L. Beetle of Chicago, prominently identified with the business development of the telephone in the West, aged 67.

April John C. Love of New York, inventor of the Love conduit electric-railway system.

July 26th John E. Zeublin of Chicago, general superintendent of the Chicago Telephone company, aged 58.

August 19th Col. J. J. S. Wilson of Chicago, veteran telegrapher and electrical man, aged 65.

October 1st John E. Hudson of Boston, president American Telephone and Telegraph company, aged 61.

October 31st George H. Bliss of Chicago, electric-lighting pioneer in the West, aged 60.

November 12th Henry Villard of New York, financier of electrical properties in the period from 1878 to 1892, aged 65.

November 12th Frank Jarvis Patten of New York, well-known electrical, inventor, aged 48.

November 16th F. W. Royce of Washington, D. C., electrical inventor and business man, aged 61.

November 23d Washington H. Lawrence of Cleveland, president National Carbon company, aged 60.


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:March 21, 2009 by: Bob Stahr;