International Electrotechnical Exhibition ends War of Currents, May 16, 1891
Among them was the first long distance transmission of high-power, three-phase electrical current, which was generated 175 km away at Lauffen am Neckar station.
Prior to the event, the city of Frankfurt had a problem to solve: It needed a central power station – an issue that had been under discussion in the city’s political and technical committees since 1886. However, opinions were divided between direct current, alternating current and three-phase current. The exhibition became the deciding force in the demonstration of a commercially viable method for the transmission of electricity.
Three-phase current with a minimal loss of 25% would be transmitted at high voltage from Lauffen am Neckar to Frankfurt. This took center stage at the exhibition and was evidenced in the large three-section entrance gate. The entrance was illuminated with 1000 light bulbs and an electrically powered waterfall (see image, right). More than 1,200,000 visitors from all over the world walked through the entrance.
The field trial was so successful that three-phase current became established for electrical transmission networks throughout the world, thus ending the ongoing War of Currents.
War of currents: Tesla vs Edison
More from this day in tech history:
Sketchpad creator is born, May 16, 1938
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Editor's note: This article was originally posted on May 16, 2012 and edited on May 16, 2015.