Circa 1915


The floor-level outlet that has provided the power to our entertainment unit has long needed upgrading. It’s old two-pronger (as evidenced by  the interesting decorative detail around the plugs, as shown above) that has been an overloaded trooper in steadily supplying the needed juice through an eight-outlet powerstrip to all our audio/visual stuff. But it wasn’t until I was back there this weekend trying to make heads and tails of the massive tangle of cables and cords coming and going from the stereo, Playstation, VCR, TV, turntable, DVD, speakers, TiVo and satellite receiver  in order to get the DVD player and TiVo working with the TV and the TiVo working with our new DirecTV receiver that I found out how old when I opted to replace it for a more modern three-prong plug — and one without a metal faceplate.

After removing it, I looked on the back and found a series of patent numbers listed, the first being the top one in this pic:


Using Google to put the pieces together I eventually found a series of websites that told me this particular outlet had been in service in the house going back as long ago as 94 years, maybe a year or two less. One can only imagine the variety of things it powered over all those years.

U.S. Patent No. 1, 146,938 for an Attachment Plug Receptacle was applied for by inventor Harvey Hubbell on July 23, 1914 and approved July 20, 1915.  Hubbell’s most famous creations were the pull chain electrical socket and his original 1904 plug, which eliminated the need to hardwire devices directly to their power source. This plug adapted any of the past attachment plugs to now standard or knife blade plugs common to that era.