Talk about vintage Christmas lights

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 10:35 am 
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A reader wrote:

I am Interested in the history of interconnecting light strings. I know it predates the 2 blade plug we use today but I need details.

Did it start with a Edison socket? What sort of plugs and receptacles were used? When did they first move to the two flat blade plug we know today?

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The first Christmas light strands ended in a connection meant to screw into a light bulb socket. Back in the early days, nobody had outlets in the walls - the only electricity was a single light bulb fixture in the middle of the ceiling. The light strand would screw into that, sometimes with a separate light bulb socket so you could still have room lighting.

To find out when the two-pronged plugs came into being, you'd have to research when wall outlets started being installed. Here's something interesting. When home wiring was still knob-and-tube, most outlets were wired backwards from the way they are wired today. And ceiling lights, as often as not were wired so that the fixture was still "hot" when the switch was turned off - all the switch did was sever the connection to "ground." More than one owner of an older home learned that the hard way.

Sorry I can't be more help about the lightbulb-socket versus 2-pronged plug question, but I think the answer lies in home wiring advances, not specifically in Christmas strands.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 10:39 am 
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The reader replied:

Thanks. I have been researching this. What started it is some sources that say the two blade plug we know today was invented as a way to join Christmas tree light strings together.

[What follows is a quote from another site:]

Quote:
In fact, the bladed wall plug that we are familiar with today was actually a development of a device that was originally used to facilitate the interconnection of stings or festoons of Christmas lights. Some prototypes of this device were in use as early as 1917, and it was patented as the “Tachon” connector in 1924. The 1924 Tachon started out as a screw-in type of connector with a safety cover but soon evolved into the two parallel blade type.


https://www.necanet.org/about-us/news/n ... mas-lights

This statement is copied other places on the web. It is not true.

The plug we know today NEMA 1-15 was invented in 1912 That is about 14 years before it was used in Christmas lights. It is quite possible that it was made more popular by being seen in Christmas lights.

https://www.plugsocketmuseum.nl/NorthAm3.html

https://www.oldchristmastreelights.com/ ... page_2.htm

Now I need to look for a Tachon connector with cap for my collection.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2021 10:50 am 
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The reader then uploaded photos of some of his collection of archaic wall outlets and switches. Some are outright scary!

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