Cleaning out the files last Friday yielded an illuminating find–a 1927 copy of The National Electrical Manufacturers Association: A Brief Outline of its Function and Purpose (in the picture below, note the autographed instruction to return this to file).

So what's changed since 1927, the year of Show Boat, the expulsion of Leon Trotsky, and the Spirit of St. Louis? (And three years before my grandfather was born.)

The electrical and medical imaging industry has certainly made incredible leaps and bounds.  What hasn't changed, though, is NEMA's utility to industry and focus on standardization, technology, and excellence.

I've outlined my favorite highlights from the publication, staying true to the original commas, capitalization, and grammar:

On Technology:

  • "Forty-five years ago there was no science, no art and no industry for the production, distribution and use of electricity.  Today electricity is used by about 200 millions of the people of the world, and in our United States, 315 thousands of human beings make a living in attending to the creating of equipment whereby its marvels are performed."
  • "To achieve this purpose [of quality electrical service] the members of the Association are interested in finding new products; they want to improve and make more of the products which are already developed and working; and so to make unpopular and unprofitable the manufacture of poor equipment and faulty apparatus.  To do this will require initiative, clear thinking, and standardization."

On Statistics:

  • "Facts, ‘our scarcest raw material,' are increasingly necessary to round out production schedules, costs, sales effort and capital expenditure.  Statistics are the searchlights of business–they clearly show the road, its obstacles, condition and slope."

On Standardization and Cooperation:

  • "The manufacturer and user of electrical and radio equipment is faced with the practical necessity of building and operating apparatus not only according to preference, but with regard to electrical ordinance, central station power supply, underwriters' requirements and interchangeability of parts.  Through Nema the combined experience and judgment of the group is focused on these problems, enabling a quick and practical solution which gives consideration to the many important factors involved."  Note: When I read this section, I immediately thought of Smart Grid.
  • "In actual fact, the Association is a pooling of intelligence in engineering, in counsel and in human associations."


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