JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
This is the 14th installment of a new series United States Patent Reports on electrical quackery and unsubstantiated bric--a-brac from the newly-electric world of the period of 1870-1900.
The history of the electric chair is odd, and ironic. The "electric chair" that we think of first when we hear the phrase is actually the "electrocution chair", and it comes into being after the introduction of the medicinal electric chair, which was designed as a palliative, electrical ointment of sorts for people with virtually any form of physical complaint. Thomas Edison introduced the notion of the lethal use of punitive electricity in a brilliant if not diabolical ploy, suggesting in 1888 that Hew York State pursue the new procedure of executing its condemned via the use of an electrified recliner, using the Westinghouse AC system--and thereby forcing the association of his competitor Westinghouse's electricity with electrocution in the mind of the general public. (I can only imagine being a Westinghouse exec and waking up to that bit of Edisonian showmanship; there's an earlier post on this blog here that discusses the electric chair in more detail.)
These chairs below are good examples of the earlier quack/medicinal sparking loungerettes, even if they are dated a little later (1890).