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Watch Our Video: The History of Wire & Cable

Wires and cable are everywhere in today’s world to make our connected, electrified way of life possible. These flexible strands of metal are used to transmit data, voice, and power across short and long distances. Throughout history, wire and cable have come a long way.

In our video, Willy the Wire recalls the history of wire and cable.

Wires are Everywhere

A wire is a metal strand usually covered in insulation. If you look around, you’ll see wires and cables transmitting data and electricity everywhere. There are two basic types of wire: solid wire, which is inexpensive, rigid and fragile; and stranded wire, which is more flexible.

The History

The history of wire and cable stretches back hundreds of years:

  • Industrial Revolution. Rapid innovation in technique and machinery changed the way we produced a wide range of goods, from textiles to iron. The steam engine made it possible for miners to keep up with the Industrial Revolution’s high demand for coal.
  • Michael Faraday. In the 1820s, Faraday discovered electromagnetic conduction by experimenting with a magnet and a current-carrying wire.
  • The Light Bulb. After testing more than 3,000 designs, Thomas Edison filed the patent for his electric light bulb in 1879.
  • Power Lines. In 1889, electricity was transmitted 14 miles to power lights in Portland, Oregon. This was the first long distance transmission of electricity.
  • The Telegraph. Samuel Morse helped to invent the telegraph and sent the first message in 1844. In 1861, Western Union established itself as a national telegraph company by laying the first transcontinental telegraph line.
  • The Second Industrial Revolution. Between 1870 and 1914, the world saw another rush of innovation, from steel manufacturing to long distance transportation by railroads. Electricity was better understood and harnessed for production, communication, and more.
  • Telephone. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell secured a patent for the telephone and placed a call within a few days. The Bell Telephone Company was established the following year.
  • Factory Electrification. In the early 1900s, electric power increased production and changed the roles of factory workers.
  • Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable. Understanding the demand for standard and custom wire, cable, and more, our company incorporated in Chicago in 1919.
  • World War II. Communication and manufacturing demands increased significantly, and Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable worked as an OEM to meet the Allies’ need for wire and cable.
  • The Post-War Boom. Unemployment was at an all-time low, and Americans were ready to spend their money and enjoy life again. This led to growth in radio, television, home appliances, cars, and more. Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable was ready with wire and cable solutions.
  • Automobiles. With mass production and the affordable Model T, Ford Motor Company made car ownership accessible to millions of Americans.
  • Factory Automation. Automatic processes keep prices low for the consumer by reducing manufacturing costs and making precise replication faster. This was made possible by high-tech wire and cable capable of transmitting power and data.
  • Lighting. Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable supplies wiring and cable for the growing demand for lighting streets, film, TV and theatre, and horticulture.
  • Medical Needs. Medical equipment, like MRIs, defibrillators, and ultrasound probes, must adhere to strict regulations. The wiring that powers this equipment must be safe and reliable for high-volume use. Our retractable cords, wire coatings, and more are found in medical facilities throughout the country.
  • Modern Day. Wire and cable are present in many of our modern-day innovations. Telecommunications, the internet, microprocessors, quantum computing, and remote work are all made possible by wire. Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable is proud to contribute something integral to our past, present, and future.

Watch our video to learn more!



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