British Plug Design

This post links a few of my favorite things: design, funny british guys, and new information. First, watch the below video and prepare to have your mind blown.

I had no idea. Not only is the design of the plug quite ingenious, but the knowledge that was standard teaching practice in England puts even our high school-level understanding of electronics to shame.

Second, an article over at Atlas Obscura by Ernie Smith, entitled Why Can’t The World Just Pick One Design For Plugs? discusses the history behind plug design and asks exactly that question. Here’s a taste:

Different countries use different types of voltage, and chose to do so without considering the fact that people might want to travel around the world and plug in their iPad no matter what country they’re in. The U.S., for example, standardized on the 120-volt system at a 60 Hz frequency, but at the same time, Germany was making up its mind that a 220- to 240-volt system at 50 Hz was a better idea. And in Japan, half the country uses a 60 Hz frequency while the other half uses 50 Hz—something that created big headaches and ensured that inconsistencies between the various systems abounded. These inconsistencies followed their way to the outlets as well.

I had no idea. The article goes on to discuss the fact that there have been design standards for decades, but there is little to no incentive for countries to move to the standard. Interestingly enough, the tech industry may have almost-accidentally fixed this issue with the USB standard. Only time will tell, but these types of things drive me nuts.

Mind blown via The Loop.

Posted: November 5, 2015

In 2022, I am participating in two leadership training programs. This should be a social experience, so I am writing about it. Check out the full list of posts in the series here.

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