Allen-Bradley Motor Control - Who-who what what?

The Change In Public Media supervisor dropped this in my inbox late last night. Must have been a late one for them yesterday. I need to tell them to stop monitoring so many changes in public media and go home to their families. Maybe I'll have the Work/Life Balance and Overtime Avoidance Manager tell them. Forza Motorsport 4 came out yesterday and it feels like a busy morning for me.
Dateline - The Saturday Evening Post. October 13th, 1962. An ad for Allen-Bradley Motor Controls appears in a mainstream publication, and part of the audience is interested!
Quite a product shot, huh? A manly hand holding a jumble of corners and screws. "What the hell is a motor control" anyway?", you say? Well, it's a thing found in factories, restaurants, laundromats, stores and probably your house. Anywhere there's an electric motor, you need a motor controller. The bigger the motor, the more important it is to have a motor controller.

"Why the hell didn't I know what a motor control is?" you say? Well, it's because pretty much all media was different in 1962. Magazines like The Saturday Evening post and Life were big stuff in the days when any activity participated in by more than three people DIDN'T have a magazine or website dedicated to it. In '62, everyone in the family read Life and The Saturday Evening Post. So, right next to ads for tampons and baby food, you find ads for obscure industrial geekdom like this Allen-Bradley one. "General Interest" meant just that back then. Now, there's practically no such thing. Markets are very specialized now.

Here in The Future, information squirts out of every screen, and screens are found on every object that costs more than a dollar to make. My Department for the Prediction of Technology Manager tells me that within three months we'll have flexible ads on our underwear. When you change your clothes, you'll be presented with an ad for Ass Don't Smell.

So, outlets for advertising and news of all sorts are as numerous and common as cell phones. It's like every person over the age of six having a continually updated copy of every magazine in existence in their pocket at all times. So there's little need to cram industrial machinery ads into the same publication as Hires root beer.

To the same extent, this also explains why television shows that were arguably a pile of shit, like Donny and Marie, Hart to Hart, and most of television from the Seventies could meet with any degree of success. There were five channels, so there was hardly any competition. That's all there was to watch, unless you wanted to go outside and look at nature or ride a bike or something insane like that.

Dad had a box or two of motor controls in the basement when I was a kid. I promise you the thing in the picture was made of shiny black phenolic resin, and the screws and metal parts were heavy gauge brass. Basically, you need motor controls because electric motors use more juice when they're working harder. A big motor has a big armature (spinning axle thing) and that's a lot of mass to turn. Also, the motor is probably hooked up to a conveyor belt or something, and that's heavy too. So, while you can simply throw a switch and instantly supply maximum current to a small motor, a big motor needs to be gradually brought up to speed to avoid drawing too much power and throwing a breaker, or worse. That's what motor controls do.

It looks like Allen-Bradley still exists, sort of. They seem to be part of Rockwell Automation, since a Google search takes me right to Rockwell's site.

I don't know why dad needed a box full of motor controls. Maybe he imagined someday singlehandedly re-fitting a laundromat with new motor controls when all their dryers simultaneously suffered Sudden Catastrophic Motor Control Failure (SCMCF)? He'd have been a hero of the laundromat, and he'd get free dryer time for a year. Too bad we had our own washer and dryer.


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