Why Hawaii Got Electricity Before Most of the Rest of the World

In 1881, Thomas Edison convinced King Kalakaua that electric streetlamps were superior to gas

4 min read
photo of chandelier
Photo: The Friends of Iolani Palace

In 1881, King David Kalakaua of Hawaii went on a world tour, the first of its kind for a sitting monarch. He circumnavigated the globe, stopping in Asia, India, Egypt, Europe, and the United States. Among other things, he sought to encourage immigration from the Asia-Pacific region, as Hawaii’s dwindling population had created a labor shortage on its sugar plantations. But the king also wanted to introduce the culture of Hawaii to the world, and he was curious about modern science and technology.

When he arrived in Paris in August 1881, the International Exposition of Electricity was just getting under way. The exposition showcased the latest advancements in electrical technology, such as dynamos, batteries, and lighting. The first International Electrical Congress also convened during the exposition, with participants presenting papers, discussing research, and deciding on definitions for the ampere, the volt, the ohm, and other electrical units.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Tony Fadell: The Nest Thermostat Disrupted My Life

The Nest founder tells of years in pursuit of a thermostat he actually likes

7 min read
A man holds a circular device in front of a blue wall that says nest on it.

Tony Fadell shows off the Nest thermostat in 2012.

Karsten Lemm/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

The thermostat chased me for 10 years.

That is pretty extreme, by the way. If you’ve got an idea for a business or a new product, you usually don’t have to wait a decade to make sure it’s worth doing.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}