Friday, January 06, 2012

I love our electrical sockets. I didn't realise they were (almost) unique

No joke. I was in the Buenos Aires airport en route back from Brazil and I found an Australian-style powerpoint to plug my laptop into.

I didn't realise how lucky I was.

We are really, really unusual:

"The ‘antipodean’ model (light blue), made up of three rectangles arranged to look like the mask from the Scream movies, is used in only four countries, all in the Southern Hemisphere: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea."

I wonder why. What were we thinking, going out (almost) on our own? *An answer below

Here's the Big Think worldwide map:

* Thanks to Charles and David E Burge, here's an answer:

"The original design of the Australian power plug originated in 1930, as a
“gentlemen’s agreement” between Fred Cook of Ring-Grip, Geoffrey Gerard of
Gerard Industries and Brian Harper Miller of the SECV. This occurred prior to
the formation of any standards body in Australia.

The design originally drew on a power connector in the USA at that time. The US
connector was also the basis of the Argentinean and Chilean connectors around the
same period. China adopted a variant of this connector some years later.

The key advantages of the Australian connector was its low price to manufacture,
utilised a fraction of the material of other power connectors. Oddly, the original US
connector which prompted this design has subsequently disappeared into obscurity.
The Australian power plug is similar in appearance [but not compatible] to the power
connector plugs used in Israel, Peoples Republic of China, Argentina and Chile."

More here.

Historical footnote: Geoffrey Gerard's son Robert later (briefly) served on the board of Australia's Reserve Bank.

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