75th Anniversary
75th Anniversary Timeline: Electricity and Energy
Highlighting events and milestones through the years that coincide with Texas Co-op Power’s 75 years of publication

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    1951: Willie Wiredhand, composed of a lamp’s socket head, wire arms, two-pronged plug legs and a lineworker’s insulated gloves, is adopted as the official electric cooperative mascot.
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    1946: More than 50% of U.S. farms are electrified.
    IMAGE: Redline vector | Stock.adobe.com
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    1979: The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs.
    IMAGE: A.L. Spangler | Shutterstock.com
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    1996: The first modern electric car, General Motors’ EV1, rolls off the production line.
    IMAGE: Marnikus | Dreamstime.com
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    2017: Eighteen percent of Texas’ energy is generated from wind and solar power, with wind making up the majority of the state’s total renewable power generation.
    IMAGE: Soonthorn Wongsaita | Shutterstock.com

From the spread of electricity thanks to co-ops to the dawn of the fracking industry, harnessing and consuming electricity and energy have hit many milestones since 1944, the year Texas Co-op Power debuted.

1944: The Pace Act extends the mission of the federal Rural Electrification Administration indefinitely beyond its original 1946 expiration date.

  • 1951: Willie Wiredhand, composed of a lamp’s socket head, wire arms, two-pronged plug legs and a lineworker’s insulated gloves, is adopted as the official electric cooperative mascot.
  • 1946: More than 50% of U.S. farms are electrified.
    IMAGE: Redline vector | Stock.adobe.com
  • 1979: The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs.
    IMAGE: A.L. Spangler | Shutterstock.com
  • 1996: The first modern electric car, General Motors’ EV1, rolls off the production line.
    IMAGE: Marnikus | Dreamstime.com
  • 2017: Eighteen percent of Texas’ energy is generated from wind and solar power, with wind making up the majority of the state’s total renewable power generation.
    IMAGE: Soonthorn Wongsaita | Shutterstock.com

1947: An automated external defibrillator is used successfully on a human for the first time.

1947: The Big Inch and Little Big Inch, two strategic oil pipelines laid during World War II from East Texas to the Northeast, are sold by the U.S. government to a private company.

1948: WBAP in Fort Worth becomes the first TV station in Texas.

1948: The transistor radio is demonstrated for the first time.

1949: Loan funds advanced by the REA surpass $1 billion.

1951: The first commercial color TV broadcast takes place.

1951: The Ferranti Mark 1 becomes the world’s first commercially available computer.

  • 1951: Willie Wiredhand, composed of a lamp’s socket head, wire arms, two-pronged plug legs and a lineworker’s insulated gloves, is adopted as the official electric cooperative mascot.
  • 1946: More than 50% of U.S. farms are electrified.
    IMAGE: Redline vector | Stock.adobe.com
  • 1979: The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs.
    IMAGE: A.L. Spangler | Shutterstock.com
  • 1996: The first modern electric car, General Motors’ EV1, rolls off the production line.
    IMAGE: Marnikus | Dreamstime.com
  • 2017: Eighteen percent of Texas’ energy is generated from wind and solar power, with wind making up the majority of the state’s total renewable power generation.
    IMAGE: Soonthorn Wongsaita | Shutterstock.com

1954: Bell Labs demonstrates the first practical silicon solar cell, powering a radio transmitter and toy Ferris wheel with energy from the sun.

1954: The first pocket transistor radio, the Regency TR-1 from Texas Instruments, goes on sale.

1958: The first commercial nuclear power plant in the U.S. opens as the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania.

1959: The REA kicks off its 25th year having made $3.8 billion in loans to 1,030 electric systems, mostly co-ops, an amount that provided new or improved service to 4.5 million consumers across 1.4 million miles of line.

1962: The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association signs an agreement to deliver the U.S. electric cooperative model overseas.

1964: Sony develops the first VCR for home use.

1965: The Great Northeast Blackout plunges all of New York, portions of seven neighboring states and parts of eastern Canada into darkness for up to 12 hours.

1967: Texas Instruments releases the first handheld calculator.

1968: The North American Electric Reliability Council, which oversees the interconnected power systems of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, forms.

1968: Scientists demonstrate the first liquid-crystal display, or LCD.

1969: Beginnings of the internet.

1969: The first automated teller machine in the U.S., devised by Dallas engineer Donald Wetzel, is installed on Long Island.

1972: The first digital electronic watch, a Pulsar LED prototype built by Texas engineer George Thiess, debuts. Thiess is a director at HILCO EC in Itasca.

1972: The Magnavox Odyssey console becomes the first interactive video game to use an ordinary home TV.

1975: Fire breaks out at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama.

1976: The Apple I computer is introduced.

1977: The U.S. Department of Energy is formed.

  • 1951: Willie Wiredhand, composed of a lamp’s socket head, wire arms, two-pronged plug legs and a lineworker’s insulated gloves, is adopted as the official electric cooperative mascot.
  • 1946: More than 50% of U.S. farms are electrified.
    IMAGE: Redline vector | Stock.adobe.com
  • 1979: The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs.
    IMAGE: A.L. Spangler | Shutterstock.com
  • 1996: The first modern electric car, General Motors’ EV1, rolls off the production line.
    IMAGE: Marnikus | Dreamstime.com
  • 2017: Eighteen percent of Texas’ energy is generated from wind and solar power, with wind making up the majority of the state’s total renewable power generation.
    IMAGE: Soonthorn Wongsaita | Shutterstock.com

1979: A compact disc audio player is demonstrated for the first time.

1980: The first U.S. wind farm opens—in New Hampshire.

1984: A power plant using tidal waves opens in Canada, the first of its kind in North America.

1986: The Chernobyl nuclear accident occurs in the Soviet Union.

1986: IBM unveils the PC Convertible, the first laptop computer.

1988: South Texas Project Electric Generating Station near Matagorda becomes Texas’ first nuclear power plant.

  • 1951: Willie Wiredhand, composed of a lamp’s socket head, wire arms, two-pronged plug legs and a lineworker’s insulated gloves, is adopted as the official electric cooperative mascot.
  • 1946: More than 50% of U.S. farms are electrified.
    IMAGE: Redline vector | Stock.adobe.com
  • 1979: The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs.
    IMAGE: A.L. Spangler | Shutterstock.com
  • 1996: The first modern electric car, General Motors’ EV1, rolls off the production line.
    IMAGE: Marnikus | Dreamstime.com
  • 2017: Eighteen percent of Texas’ energy is generated from wind and solar power, with wind making up the majority of the state’s total renewable power generation.
    IMAGE: Soonthorn Wongsaita | Shutterstock.com

1999: Deregulation of the electric industry takes effect in parts of the state.

2008: Hydraulic fracturing begins in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.

  • 1951: Willie Wiredhand, composed of a lamp’s socket head, wire arms, two-pronged plug legs and a lineworker’s insulated gloves, is adopted as the official electric cooperative mascot.
  • 1946: More than 50% of U.S. farms are electrified.
    IMAGE: Redline vector | Stock.adobe.com
  • 1979: The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs.
    IMAGE: A.L. Spangler | Shutterstock.com
  • 1996: The first modern electric car, General Motors’ EV1, rolls off the production line.
    IMAGE: Marnikus | Dreamstime.com
  • 2017: Eighteen percent of Texas’ energy is generated from wind and solar power, with wind making up the majority of the state’s total renewable power generation.
    IMAGE: Soonthorn Wongsaita | Shutterstock.com

2018: In February, Texas oil production jumps to 4.01 million barrels a day, the highest since the U.S. Energy Information Administration started keeping records in 1981.

TAGS: Electricity, Energy, 75th Anniversary


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