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The 1960s (1960-1969)

Like no decade before it, the 1960s left an unforgettable imprint on the 20th Century that would later be recognized as a turning point for change on many fronts. From the musical revolution led by the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan (to name just a few) to the progress made by the civil rights, feminist, youth, and environmental movements, the 1960s wrote a unique page in history. As a growing

Like no decade before it, the 1960s left an unforgettable imprint on the 20th Century that would later be recognized as a turning point for change on many fronts. From the musical revolution led by the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan (to name just a few) to the progress made by the civil rights, feminist, youth, and environmental movements, the 1960s wrote a unique page in history. As a growing portion of America's youth rejected the “establishment” and created its own counterculture, the decade brought many defining moments. The Berlin Wall went up in 1961. In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis evoked fear in all Americans. Lasting until 1975, the Vietnam War sparked controversy and civil unrest after the United States entered the military struggle in 1965. Woodstock rocked traditional values in 1969. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (1963), his brother Robert, who was a senator and presidential hopeful (1968), and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (1968) devastated the country. And in 1969, man walked on the moon and returned.

During this dynamic decade, the electrical industry saw its share of changes as well. To improve safety in the workplace, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act in 1960. In 1965, a massive blackout in the Northeastern United States revealed the vulnerability of the nation's electric grid. Soon thereafter, two energy watchdog organizations were formed — the Electric Research Council in 1965 and the North American Electric Reliability Council in 1968.

Fueling the demand for energy was a new wave of electrical applications and continued concentration on electrical modernization that led to new opportunities for electrical professionals everywhere. According to EC&M archives, electric space heating was the fastest growing market. Continued growth in summer air conditioning also put a heavy strain on electrical service and system requirements. Higher lighting levels and greater loads became a top concern for electrical designers of commercial and institutional buildings. Underground residential distribution (URD) spread rapidly. Sales of exterior lighting systems, including street, highway, and area functional; floodlighting; and functional units rose. New high-output, high-efficiency lamps emerged, and the use of luminous ceiling techniques in residences gained wide acceptance.

As computer technology continued to advance, automation began to take hold at the decade's close. At the time, many believed the 1970s promised darker days ahead for the men and women who would be replaced by machines.

Infrared Comfort Heating

Application of quartz infrared heating to outdoor areas and large, poorly insulated indoor areas is opening up a new market for electric heating in the Chicago area, EC&M editors report in June 1960. “Long recognized as an efficient industrial process heating medium for baking, drying, preheating, and curing, infrared electrical heating is now coming out in the open,” they write. Quartz infrared tubes and lamps permit controlled application of heat and light with simple fixtures.

Suggested applications for outdoor infrared comfort heating include airport boarding areas, outdoor construction, stadium grandstands, building entrances, cafes, swimming pools, drive-in restaurants, patios, theater marquees, drive-in banks, railroad loading platforms, transit platforms, gas stations, shopping centers, skywalks, and loading platforms.

Suggested applications for indoor infrared comfort heating include aircraft hangars, filtration plants, locker rooms, airport baggage areas, garages, machine shops, auditoriums, gate houses, steel warehouses, building foyers, gymnasiums, ticket booths, bridge towers, and health centers.

Electric Heat Expo

The first National Electric Home Heating Exhibition and Symposium (sponsored by the Electric House Heating Equipment Section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association) marks the beginning of a new era of electrical development, writes Editor W. T. Stuart in a 1960 editorial. “Only a few years ago, such a meeting would have little more than academic interest to most electrical engineers and contractors,” he says. “Today, a practical understanding of electrical space heating equipment and application technology is, or soon will be, essential to the conduct of their daily business.” What's forcing this change in traditional attitudes? Stuart maintains that summer electric utility system peaks, already common (and for most systems inevitable), are upsetting long-established load criteria. Electric heat is a natural and logical seasonal complement to the climbing demands of summer cooling. Consequently, he says heat is emerging as the “major key to the future of residential electrification.”

Powering a Data-Processing Center

Frank J. Aluisio, chief electrical engineer, Air Research Associates, New York, details the unusual wiring methods used to power electronic data-processing systems in one of the country's largest computer centers in a 1960 article. Characterizing the design of electrical power systems for modern data-processing centers as a dynamic thing, he walks readers through the challenges engineers face in this new niche. Confronted by heavy unit loads with extreme requirements for supply circuit flexibility, he explains the designer must come up with methods to provide electrical convenience as well as satisfy code and safety requirements. “Because this is a pioneer area in design, the designer must first use his imagination and then spell out his design concept in terms of standard or special equipment properly coordinated and interconnected to fulfill all design objectives,” he writes. “Each and every detail must be carefully executed to assure the overall engineering integrity of radical or novel methods.”

Plant Maintenance Radio Patrol

If electrical power or any machinery fails at International Harvester's Melrose Park, Ill., plant, aid is only a few minutes away. A 1960's EC&M article explains why. Designed and constructed by the Melrose Park plant, 22 radio-equipped battery-powered shop trucks serve as mobile service benches, containing tool bins, parts, vises, and other materials. The plant uses six radio-equipped vehicles to handle all electrical repair needs. Two electricians ride in each truck, and dispatching is handled from one control point. As requests for service come in, the dispatcher radios the order to the vehicle nearest the request.

On-Site Generation for Compact Buildings

Widespread use of local power generation for modern buildings may prove to be the most significant electrical system development in many years, writes Dana Price, electrical engineer, Goleman & Rolfe, Architects & Engineers, Houston, in a 1961 article. He insists that gas-turbine local electrical generation may be the key to an electromechanical plant that will best satisfy the light, power, air-conditioning, and heat needs of many modern, controlled-environment buildings. He puts this trend into perspective by citing a possible application. Owners can minimize the initial cost as well as operating costs of compact, closed, windowless buildings by using gas-turbine generation to provide controlled light, temperature, humidity, and ventilation. He believes one of the most important applications for this new approach will be in schools.

Tips for More Effective Plant Maintenance

In this 1961 case study, Robert J. Lawrie, associate editor, discusses the merits of central maintenance operations plus an area maintenance plan to keep downtime to a minimum at General Electric Co.'s Radio Receiver plant in Utica, N.Y. With nearly 200,000 sq ft of manufacturing space in one building and 100,000 sq ft in another, maintenance personnel have to travel great distances to get from one place to another. Centralized paperwork, spare parts control, and other functions also present quite a challenge. But with each unit manager responsible for maintenance in this area, downtime is practically nonexistent. Lawrie explains standardization of electrical equipment, particularly in production areas, significantly reduces downtime. Hundreds of motors, controls, and electrical parts used on various machines and assembly lines are of the same design. This facilitates rapid replacement in case of electrical failure and allows a minimum spare parts inventory. Furthermore, maintenance men are more efficient and successful at troubleshooting problems when servicing standard equipment.

Bare Hands Work on Hot Lines

In 1961, EC&M asks readers to imagine working on a 138,000V transmission line with their bare hands. The magazine reports this revolutionary new technique of working with bare hands on an energized power line is being carried out safely by American Electric Power System and Ohio Power Co. linemen — thanks to “a new twist of an old idea borrowed from the birds.” AEP and Ohio Power President Philip Sporn recently announced that this practice, which is now thoroughly field tested at voltages up to 380,000V, will soon be adopted as a standard procedure on AEP System lines. He describes the method as “a truly outstanding development, one of the most important in its field in the history of the electric power industry,” but warns its use requires special equipment and proper training to ensure linemen's safety. How does it work? The technique adheres to the principle that current does not flow when there is no difference in voltage between two points. In the past, linemen only performed work while grounded (insulating themselves from the live conductor by protective devices such as rubber goods and insulated hotsticks). With the new method, the article explains, “the lineman is charged at the same voltage as the line on which he is working — a phenomenon of which he is not even physically aware — and he is protected from ground by effective insulation.”

Nuclear Attack Survival Guide

In a special report in 1962, EC&M editors deem the “Nuclear Attack and Industrial Survival Guide” the most critical assignment ever undertaken by the nation's business press. “In its development, at one moment or another, each member of the task force has felt the enormous contemplative weight of the subject and the almost overwhelming demands for accuracy,” they write. “Rarely have we dealt with a matter of such potential import to individuals and to responsible leaders in all segments of the American economy.” Citing the Berlin crisis as just one example, the editors predict the United States will live under threat of a nuclear attack for many years to come. “How well we could survive such aggression, and how rapidly we could restore a viable civilization, depends heavily on how we prepare to meet the danger.”

Why does the report concentrate on industrial survival? First, the excellent organization that industry already has can be a powerful force for the protection of people. Second, in the aftermath of any war, production must be restored as quickly as possible. In conclusion, editors offer a disclaimer: Let us make one thing absolutely clear. If any part of the pages that follow can be accused of sensationalism, then we have failed our job. The Editors do not believe that nuclear war is likely. But we do believe that the possibility of it…however remote…must be examined.

Electrical Specs for Prototype Fallout Shelter

At the Air National Guard station, Westchester County Airport, White Plains, N.Y., a meticulously designed group fallout shelter will serve as a prototype guide for designers and builders of other shelter spaces, writes Associate Editor Robert J. Lawrie in 1962. Capable of protecting 600 people, this structure will provide shelter for air guardsmen and nearby residents for a period of two weeks in case of an atomic attack. Lawrie goes on to discuss electrical specifications. Applying precision design, engineers provided a very high radiation protection factor of more than 1000 as well as excellent reliability in all utilities. For example, electrical power can be obtained from a normal 120V single-phase utility supply or from either of two 5kW engine generators through load transfer switching. In addition, fluorescent fixtures are equipped with low-temperature ballasts to ensure lamp operations during the first hours of use during cold weather. (Underground shelters are not heated because body heat from occupants will quickly raise the surrounding air temperature to a comfortable level.)

Field Assembly Techniques

According to a 1962 article, field assembly and prefabrication of electrical system components have become an established practice in the electrical construction industry. Cost-conscious contractors have substantially increased the effectiveness of power tools by establishing carefully planned centralized concentrations of related tools and fabrication operations. With this assembly-line approach, the article indicates field supervisors can shave normal labor units 20% or more on large projects. This concept is particularly adaptable to projects with numerous typical floors or repetitive area layouts requiring duplicate conduit runs and component assemblies. The current trend is to do as much work as possible at ground level, or at one location, and distribute assembled units or sections to installation points (such as floors and decks). By doing this, supervisors find they can use available manpower more effectively and much more efficiently. The article reveals that the following operations are most adaptable to centralized production methods: fabrication and assembly of brackets, racks, frames, suspension hangers, and other material- and equipment-supporting facilities; mass bending of conduit and tubing for parallel raceway installation; and cutting, drilling, threading, and plating (bus bar) operations.

1962 Electrical Strike

After a short but costly strike, Local 3 (New York City) of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, won a sensational but nominal 5-hr day, 25-hr work week, writes Editor W. T. Stuart in a 1962 editorial. He describes this 9000-man local union division as one of the most powerful in all of the building trades. It has contracts with 6000 licensed electrical contractors, and its members provide practically the entire electrical labor force to the city's new construction industry, writes Stuart. The shorter week issue was a compromise between the union's 4-hr day demand and the contractors' 6-hr day holding position. The hourly wage increase of 56 cents could be predicted almost to the penny from the precedents of recent years, Stuart writes.

Aluminum in Concrete

In a 1963 editorial, Editor W. T. Stuart reports that a resolution calling for a revision of the National Electrical Code to prohibit the use of aluminum conduit embedded in concrete passed by a perfunctory vote at the eastern and southern sections of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) at their annual meetings. About the same time, the General Services Administration and Army Corps of Engineers issued administrative instructions halting the use of aluminum conduit in concrete in projects under their jurisdiction. Stuart explains that these actions stem from analysis of the structural damage found in three District of Columbia buildings — in which they attributed concrete cracking and spalling to the corrosion and consequent expansion of aluminum conduits embedded in slabs and columns. John H. Fetty, chief electrical engineer, Department of License and Inspection of the District of Columbia, reported these instances to the IAEI's Eastern Section, and asked for the Code revision. Stuart writes that in normal concrete, corrosion appears to be minimal and self-limiting. Where quantities of chloride additives are used in the mix or are introduced from chloride-contaminated aggregates, the chemical environment for galvanic corrosion may exist — particularly if the concrete is periodically or continuously wet.

Ultrasonic Intrusion Alarm Safeguards Pan Am Building

Demonstrating EC&M's ongoing commitment to and continued focus on the security market, editors put together an overview of the ultrasonic burglar alarm system installed in the Pan Am building in New York City in 1965. Capable of detecting the slightest movement on an entry or exit, the system triggers an alarm that saturates fire-exit areas with high-frequency sound waves. The ultrasonic alarm system operates on the Doppler Effect principle, which editors describe in this way: If a source of sound energy is moving, the frequency of the radiated energy changes. In the case of the ultrasonic alarm system, the source of sound energy is an object (the intruder) from which sound waves are reflected. The radiated energy is the echo.

Launching Apollo to the Moon

“A wonderland of science and technology — all in an assortment of gigantic buildings and strange structures. And if the sheer size of the project takes your breath away, the purpose for the whole thing rocks the imagination: Send three men to the Moon,” write EC&M editors in a special report on wiring the Apollo moonlaunch complex, located in Merritt Island, Fla., in 1966. To truly understand and evaluate the scope and detail of electrical work on this project, editors provide a brief description of the interrelated operations of the many parts of the facility.

Launch Complex 39 is a massive array of launch facilities, each of which has been specially designed to serve a specific function in the assembly, checkout, and launch of rockets of much greater size and complexity than any of the previous rockets which have been used to date.

Electric Heat Market Takes Off

Nearly 500,000 homes were wired for electric heat in 1965, bringing the national total to almost 2.5 million, reports EC&M in the February 1966 issue. The increase follows gains of 300,000 in 1964 and 200,000 in 1963, the editors report. At the beginning of 1960, there were only 900,000 electrically heated residential units in the country. What is the market like for electric heat in the next 10 to 15 years? “Answers are only as plentiful as ‘authorities’ willing to make a guess,” they write. “Uncertainties include the magnitude of utilities' promotional effort, effectiveness of negative promotion by combustible fuel interests, and the extent of electric energy rate reductions.” Residential units, or households, heated completely by electricity, will number 19 million by 1980, if the projection made by the Federal Power Commission in 1963 proves accurate.

Mobile Radio Expands Service

According to a 1966 article, a mobile radio system, linking service trucks with headquarters, is the key to continued fast service for a growing list of customers at J.R. Long and Sons, an apparatus service and electrical contracting firm in Morristown, N.J. The two-way radio system permits instant communications between the base station at the main office and roving service trucks, which cover a large portion of northern New Jersey. As a result, the effective range of service trucks is increased, service calls can be answered in minutes, pickups and deliveries are faster, and company manpower and equipment are used more efficiently. The systems selected by Longo incorporate: a base station located in the plant main office; a remote base unit installed in the president's office; an antenna, which towers 115 ft over the plant; and module units installed in each of three service trucks and in the president's car. Purchased as a package that includes installation of equipment and erection of the antenna, the entire radio system cost approximately $6000.

Riot-Torn Cities Need Rapid Rebuilding

As a 1967 article points out, electrical work wasn't always easy. Urban race riots in 1967 have been accompanied by a sharp increase in arson, resulting in widespread destruction of property, Editor W. T. Stuart reports. Losses surpass the $500 million level in Detroit alone. Although estimating total losses nationwide is almost impossible, Stuart says urban riot recovery “is already a statistically significant fraction of the electrical work load ahead.” Reconnections and repair to tenable buildings are among the first essential tasks. “They will have to be done under conditions of hostility and substantial risk to personnel and vehicles,” he writes. “Guides and watchmen recruited, under official sponsorship, from among responsible community residents to assist electrical crews may be necessary.”

This type of work involves costs and administrative problems that should not be underestimated, Stuart warns. The larger tasks of reconstruction and its related electrical design and construction work will come later and hopefully in a less socially tense atmosphere, he writes. Because contractors will most likely encounter militant groups bent on obstructing construction in and around building sites at some time, they must learn how to work effectively in the heart of riot-damaged and race-sensitive areas.

The Electric Car: A Coming Revolution?

“It may not be many moons before it will be commonplace to see quiet, fumeless electric cars, buses, and trucks — whizzing along our highways and byways — powered by batteries, hybrid power systems, or fuel cells,” writes John H. Watt, associate editor, in 1967. Although only a few hundred battery-powered electric vehicles are operating on the roads of America, Watts finds the future of electric-propelled street vehicles extremely bright. Just how soon this market will explode is a subject of controversy among researchers and manufacturers.

Dr. George A. Hoffman, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), among others, proposes “hybrid power systems for vehicles, which will pave the way to the all-electric vehicle by the year 2000, the start of the all-electric 21st Century.”

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