In about 1945 our milk was delivered to the house. The milk bottle had
a paper cover held in place by a wire. I was about five hears old, and
knew there was electricity in the outlet, and wire conducted
electricity. One morning I took the morning's milk wire and poked its
two ends into an outlet. The wire exploded and burned my fingers. I
think I had a "Near-Darwin" experience!
My parents built the house in 1942, and original outlets had silver and
copper sides. There was no ground terminal, but the silver side had a
wider slot. I think the silver-copper convention may go back to the
introduction of that style AC connector.
On Sat, 30 Jan 2016 23:24:59 -0600, "dangerous dan"
Do you mean the wall outlet, the receptacle? I think so. (Or the
plug on the end of the cord?)
That's why they call you dangerous dan. They haven't always been
labeled white and black but the screws were silver and brass colored
and people who connected them were supposed to know which went to
which. This goes back to the 50's and I think earlier. The
practical light bulb only goes back to 1870.
As was stated, outlets have had designated sides for decades.
Even though it's "alternating current", here's a good explanation I
found online why it's best to properly put the wires where they belong.
Let's talk about cord plugs and their connection to light fixtures. As
you may know, most light fixtures have only two wires, a "hot" wire and
a neutral wire. Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to
connect these two wires, even though the light will light either way,
and here's why. If you ever followed the two wires up to the light
socket, you'd see that one connects to the inner bottom contact portion
of the light socket, where the bottom of the light bulb makes contact.
That is intended for the "hot" connection wire. The other wire is
connected to the screw portion of the bulb socket where the bulb screws
down into the socket, we'll call this the side of the socket and bulb
for visual purposes. Now let's just think about the dangers of hooking
the "hot wire to the side connection of the socket. See anything wrong
here yet? Now, visualize yourself unscrewing the bulb by grasping around
the lower portion of the bulb where the metal screw part of the bulb is
exposed. You unscrew the bulb a bit and then take a second grip of the
bulb and "BAM"! You got shocked! It's all because the screw part of the
bulb is now the "hot" connection and you became the path to ground.
Or you could put 100 watt bulbs in a ceiling fixture rated for 60w.
with a glass globe around each bulb. After 20 years the plastic
around the metal socket crumbles and all you have is the metal
On Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 12:25:04 AM UTC-5, dangerous dan wrote:
Ibelieve some of this goes back to the AM radio days, when tranformless radios first started appearing on store shelves.
one side was hot, the other side connected to the radios case, which worked fine with the transformer isolating the outside case.
no transformer no isolation ZAP:(
I was probably around 14 years old when I got an old shortwave radio
which was probably made in the 40s. It had a metal case, which was
isolated from the metal chassis buy some rubber grommets. There was no
transformer. Those grommets had become brittle and the case was in
direct contact to that chassis.
Shortwave radios need an antenna and have a ground screw that needs to
be grounded to complete the antenna. I rigged up a piece of wire
outdoors, ran it to a tree for an antenna. Then I connected a piece of
wire from the GROUND screw to the screw holding the cover on the wall
outlet. The cord on that radio was obviously wired backwards. When I
plugged the radio in, that thin piece of wire I used for a ground wire,
instantly went up in smoke, and since it was right by the outlet where I
was plugging in the radio, that red hot wire fell on my hand and burned
right into my skin, before it blew the house fuse. I had burned deep
into my hand, leaving the melted insulation enbedded in my hand. That
was very painful.
My father was really pissed off about it and after taking me to the
hospital, he said I could not play with electricity anymore. His brother
(my uncle) was an electrician. He looked at that radio and showed me
what was wrong. He wired it properly with a grounded cord, and told me
to replace those grommets before I ever consider plugging it in again.
I did that, and after my father calmed down (I think my uncle talked to
my father about it). When I tried the radio again, it worked fine.
That was a hard lesson to learn. But it could have been worse if a fire
had started. There was always a small reminder, because that wire left a
burn mark in the linoleum below that outlet, and another burn in the
wooden table the radio was on. (The outlet cover plate had to be
replaced since it was all charred too. My uncle did that, and might have
replaced the outlet too).
I still have that radio, even though I have not used it in years. It
brings back good memories of my youth and bad memories of that incident,
but a BIG LESSON in electrical safety.
On Sun, 31 Jan 2016 18:39:10 -0600, email@example.com wrote:
There were plenty of "hot chassis" electronics made before the
transistors started showing up. I had a tv that would light you up if
a knob fell off and you touched the shaft. After a while I figured out
I should flip the plug. They may have had NEMA 1-15 receptacles but
the plugs were not.
On Sun, 31 Jan 2016 20:00:10 -0500, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Yep, I still find it sort of amazing they even allowed such things.
Sure, the elec codes were much less than they are now, but they still
had codes and those live chassis were simply dangerous. At the very
minimum, they could have used polarized plugs, which would not have
added any cost to the device, since they had to install some sort of
I wonder how many people died from electrocution back then? It's just
like I was talking to an old farmer who was my neighbor before he passed
away at the age of 90 something. He was telling me when he ran a hog
farm on that property (where he still lived). He constantly spoke about
hogs getting electrocuted. One day I got to see his barn, and I was
shocked at what I saw of the wiring in there. Wires with bare copper
exposed, switches and outlets just hanging by some wires (no box) with a
little electrical tape around the screws, lamp cord attached to stock
tank heaters, and so on.... UNBELIEVABLE!
After he died, the new owner of that farm cut the wires going to that
barn the same day he moved in. He had an electrician rewire the house
immediately. Eventually he had the barn and other sheds rewired too.
On Mon, 01 Feb 2016 01:26:26 -0600, email@example.com wrote:
The problem was the number of non polarized receptacles out there. The
3d house I lived in was built in 1953 and it did not have them. I
don't really remember 1-15s (polarized 2 wire) until after the 5-15 (3
wire) was available and used in commercial.
On Mon, 01 Feb 2016 12:25:52 -0600, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
The early ones had the same size slots and some even had T slots that
would take a 1-15 and a 2-15. (the first house I lived in had those,
built pre wwII)
I would not be surprised if there are still some of them in the old
parts of our cities.
On 02/01/2016 01:30 PM, email@example.com wrote:
When my parents moved to Denton in 1967, they stayed in an old
apartment. The receptacles were duplex, but only one side was usable.
IIRC, one had T slots like you described, and the other just had
horizontal slots (both of them).
Not as relevant, but the apartment I lived in in Brooklyn, which was
built as luxury in 1930 had non-remarkable duplex outlets in all the
other rooms, but in my room, which was meant to be the maid's room,
the receptacle was unisex, or unex, or whatever is not duplex. But
the slots were parallel and I don't remember if one was longer than
another. I would have replaced it but it had 5 or more coats of paint
after 40 years, and I thought I'd make a mess taking off the plate.
On 2/1/2016 1:25 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
My last house was built in 1949 and did not have them that I recall, but
I could be wrong. When I bought the house in 1966 I changed to grounded
I found this:
Homes built before the 1960’s had most of their original 125 V
receptacle outlets of the non-grounding type (2-prong) (see Fig. 14). In
1947, the Code first required grounding type (3-prong) receptacles for
the laundry. In 1956 the required use of grounding type receptacles was
extended to basements, garages, outdoors and other areas where a person
might be standing on ground. Finally, in 1962 the Code was revised to
require all branch circuits to include a grounding conductor or ground
path to which the grounding contacts of the receptacle must be
connected. That effectively discontinued the use of non-grounding type
receptacles except for replacement use in existing installations were a
grounding means might not exist.
These are the locations in and around the home when GFCIs were first
1968 - Swimming Pool Underwater Lighting
1971 - Receptacles Near Swimming Pools
1973 - Outdoor Receptacles
1975 - Bathroom Receptacles
1978 - Garage Receptacles
1981 - Whirlpools and Tubs
1987 - Receptacles Near Kitchen Sinks
1990 - Receptacles in Unfinished Basements and Crawl Spaces
1993 - Receptacles Near Wet Bar Sinks
1996 - All Kitchen Counter-Top Receptacles
2005 - Receptacles Near Laundry and Utility Sinks
On Sat, 30 Jan 2016 23:24:59 -0600, "dangerous dan"
Always has been the differentiation, and for VERY good reason!!! One
side is referenced to ground - the other side is 120 volts above
ground potential. With polarized plugs or grounded outlets it is very
important which is which.
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