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Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE

Issue 4 • Date Dec. 1988

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  • Thomas Edison as a manager of R&D: the case of the alkaline storage battery, 1898-1915

    Publication Year: 1988 , Page(s): 4 - 12
    Cited by:  Papers (1)
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1076 KB)  

    From 1898 to 1915, Thomas Edison devoted the resources of his laboratory in the US to developing an alkaline storage battery. Initially, Edison intended that this battery would be used in electric automobiles, but technical problems prevented him from introducing his battery before this market disappeared. It is argued that in the course of this invention Edison modified his style and approach. In particular, Edison became less of a tinkerer and more of a research director supervising a team of college-trained chemists and engineers. As a research director, Edison motivated his experimenters by using informal management techniques and he insisted on keeping research closely connected to manufacturing. Most of all, his approach shifted from being divergent in which he tried many solutions, to being convergent, in which he directed experiments toward a highly specified goal.<> View full abstract»

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  • Otherwise a mere clod: California rural electrification

    Publication Year: 1988 , Page(s): 13 - 19
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1215 KB)  

    Rural electrification reached a highly developed stage in California by the mid-1920s. Farmers tried hydroelectric power, early power companies saw and exploited rural profit potentials, and farming interests assisted in developing the rural market. Elsewhere in the nation, electricity remained an urban phenomenon well into the 1940s. An explanation is given of how and why California accomplished significant rural electrification prior to the rest of the United States. Various reasons considered for this phenomenon include: the location of waterpower sites in relation to population centers, shortages and conservation of other energy resources, technical choices in electric power transmission, economic incentives and load building choices made by power companies, and both private and public support of rural electrification. It is noted that actual rural uses of electricity were also varied, with irrigation and reclamation providing the heaviest electric loads.<> View full abstract»

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  • Power politics

    Publication Year: 1988 , Page(s): 20 - 27
    Cited by:  Papers (1)
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1073 KB)  

    An overview is presented of the influence of social forces on technological change, based on the experiences involved in the establishment of the Pennsylvania-New Jersey Interconnection (PNJ), the first 220-kV transmission system between independent companies in the US that was established in 1927. None of the precursor efforts-federal, state, or private-were able to develop a politically acceptable administrative framework for high-voltage interconnection. The author discusses the interplay of political, economic, and personal factors evoked by the proposals considered for such an interconnection which reflected the contemporary national debate on the future of electric utilities. It is concluded that the early success of the PNJ was due to the fact that its design did not disrupt existing patterns of ownership and regulation.<> View full abstract»

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IEEE Technology and Society Magazine covers the impact of technology (as embodied by the fields of interest in IEEE) on society

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Editor-in-Chief
Katina Michael
School of Information Systems and Technology
University of Wollongong