They say you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.
This speaks true to our company. As we progress with new technologies and innovations that better our business, we always remain true to our humble roots.
Madison was founded in Cleveland in 1929 by Earl Atkinson, an electrician and inventor of the Madison Clip (one of the electrical industry’s most relied-upon and favorite products). While the industry has changed significantly in the 84 years since then, we’ve remained committed to delivering innovative, high-quality products and superior service.
A lot has progressed in the electrical industry in the city we call home. So today, a quick history lesson to appreciate where we’ve been:
Way back in the day, there was a communication system that translated messages by transmitting electric signals over wires from location to location (a far cry from today’s communication methods like sending a simple text or tweet!). But alas, this system – the telegraph, as we know it – debuted in 1847, marking the first significant application of controlled electricity in Cleveland. Fire-alarm boxes were the next phase of power in the city, and by 1877, telephones stepped on the scene making communication much faster and easier.
Let there be light
In the late 1800s, Charles Brush, the most prominent innovator and entrepreneur of the time, made a big impact on the city of Cleveland with the development of the arc light.
But Brush wasn’t the only name making headlines at the time. Perhaps you’ve heard of Thomas Edison? Edison designed the incandescent lamp that later had an impact in Cleveland. When the National Electric Lamp Association became the National Quality Lamp Division of General Electric (GE), it established NELA PARK in the Cleveland suburbs, one of the earliest planned industrial research parks in the nation. This division went on to take a leading role in GE’s incandescent lighting development program from 1915 until 1935, when fluorescent lighting research began.
Movin’ on up
Once electricity helped Clevelanders communicate and light the city, transportation was the natural next step. Brush made headlines again when his Cleveland-based company began developing and testing equipment for the first electric streetcar line, plus a Brush generator was used in a car barn that powered the line (known as the East Cleveland Railway Co.).
By 1900, Cleveland ranked first in the production of electric automobiles.
Home is where the electricity is
The electrical home-appliance field was also booming in Cleveland by World War I. This meant everything from coffee percolators, frying pans, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, fans and more were being developed. (In fact, seven different types of vacuum cleaners were being produced in the city in 1931 – that’s a lot of cleanup!) By the 1920s, Cleveland also ranked third nationwide in the production of radios.
War – what is it good for? Power
Cleveland electrical firms banned together during World War II so they could meet the needs of our country’s military. They manufactured mini radio tubes to use in proximity fuses for antiaircraft artillery shells. A new department in GE even sprung up specifically for lighting research.
Post-war, the industry continued to see rapid growth. So much growth, in fact, that two Cleveland companies – Reliance Electric and the Addressograph-Multigraph Corp – were named one of Fortune’s 500 largest industrial corporations for 1958.
As you can see, Cleveland has made its mark on the electrical industry in the past few centuries. But, the items above only scratch the surface on how the industry has progressed. (We didn’t event mention its impact on electronics and microelectronics!)
Madison is proud to call Cleveland home, and we can only imagine what the next century will hold. Which person, company or invention would you call most significant in Cleveland’s electrical history?
Source: The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
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Photo credit: All Things Cleveland, Ohio