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Book: Copper Wire and Electrical Conductors - The Shaping of a Technology by B.C. Blake-Coleman

Book Reviews: Copper Wire and Electrical Conductors - The Shaping of a Technology by B.C. Blake-Coleman

categories: Book, Copper Wire, Electrical Conductors, Research, Electric Machinery, History of Technology


 Wire and Blood

It was a long and interminable process before modern electrical conductors became as suitable for electrical applications as they are. The essential technology was established millenia ago but as this book details, the development of wire technology and electrical science took the combined genius of generations of artisans, engineers, industrialists and scientists . 'Copper Wire -' traces the tortuous path that copper wire and wire technology had to pursue in order to reach a quality fit for purpose in modern electrical engineering and technology. Making copper wire was one thing, understanding why it just wasn't up to the job was something else. Conductivity, purity, raw materials and process engineering all had to be understood in their context before economic conductor supply could be established. The development of electrical science, telegraphy, telephony and power distribution all became exigencies in the manufacturers quest for the ideal conductor.

Surprisingly, however, Blake-Coleman argues convincingly that no separate copper wire industry actually emerged, rather the early manufacturers tended to carry wire manufacture over a range of different metals and produced copper wire as a function of demand. Circumspect and reluctant, they were hard to convince that electricity promised profit.

This book stands as a unique project in industrial and technological history; leaned on by many writers in economic history, it remains the epitome of scholarship and insight coupled to a pragmatic and practical chapter structure. It is however a technological history and readers hoping for lengthy biographical profiles will be disappointed. That said, it in no way detracts from what is, without doubt, an admirable study. [by CB Barrie]

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 Fascinating Book

I borrowed this book from my library to provide a perspective on an aspect of my current research topic. I started simply by focusing on what I needed but became so fascinated by the subject that I was drawn into reading extensive extracts - so much so that I returned the book late and was fined. Now I'm obliged to get my own personal copy - this is turning out to be an expensive research exercise!

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