AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War

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    AC/DC is an intoxicating mix of technological and business history that draws clear parallels to current day standards battles in software and electronics. Before there could be computers or televisions, however, there had to be electricity.

    This is the story of how the great populist inventor Thomas Edison bet wrong in the vicious war between supporters of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). The savagery of this battle can be hardly imagined today. Untold numbers of animals were electrocuted in the battle to dominate public opinion (the most bizarre victim was a circus elephant who is still mourned by animal rights activists). Even today, the use of electric chairs on death row is a result of Edison’s campaign to prove the lethality of AC current.

    More than a juicy story, AC/DC is an object lesson in bad business strategy and poor decision-making. Edison’s inability to see his mistake was a key factor in his loss of control over the operating system for his future inventions, not to mention the company he founded, Edison General, now General Electric.

    Hardcover, 198 pages

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