Being in business for multiple generations can certainly put you into a nostalgic mood. It’s worth studying the past to gain insight into today’s accomplishments as well to encourage us to do even better, going forward.
As the team at Belmont celebrates our company’s 125th anniversary this month, we wanted to make a comparison of what day-to-day life was in 1896 compared to now. Here are a few examples to put things into context:
- Automotive Industry: The first American gas-powered automobile was designed in 1893, with the creators J. Frank and Charles Duryea winning the first US car race two years later. By 1896, they sold the first US-made gasoline car.
In contrast, today we are seeing massive growth in alternatively fueled vehicles, most notably with electric cars powered by a nationwide charging station network. What’s more, with the advent of smartphone technology and near-ubiquitous high-speed connections, it’s a trivial matter to tap an icon on your mobile device to summon a vehicle to pick you up within minutes.
- Communication: Back in 1875, Alexander Graham Bell uttered the famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you,” demonstrating they can transmit sounds over wires.
Three years later, the first phone exchange was set up in New Haven, CT. Phone service subscribers had to press a button a certain number of clicks to call someone. But in 1896, the first rotary dial phone was invented. In 2020, we carry our own smartphones everywhere we go and use them to communicate not just by voice but through instant text messaging and video calls. The Internet itself is the latest layer of our communications networks.
- Energy: Power from electricity for mass distribution was just starting to ramp up, with Westinghouse building the Niagara Power Plant in 1896, only 10 years after the very first commercial alternating current power system was setup. Electric utility power wasn’t even regulated by the government until 1935.
Today, we still obtain electricity from the rushing of water as well as from wind turbines and burning fossil fuels. But we also have learned to harness nuclear power and now innovation continues in developing efficient solar power panels providing energy to homes, businesses and vehicles.
- Voting: As of 1896, American citizens in 39 of the then 45 states were able to cast printed ballots in secrecy, and women in the United States did not yet have the right to vote. It wasn’t until August 18, 1920, just before the 1920 election, that the U.S. Congress ratified the 19th amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing them their right to cast a ballot. In the modern era, voting is done in secret nationwide both with paper ballots and by computer. As of 2016, a woman had finally become a presidential nominee when the Democrats selected Hillary Clinton, and in 2020, Kamala Harris became the first female to become vice president.
- Mealtime: Preparing food was different in 1986 compared to today in that you couldn’t preserve perishable items with cold because refrigerators were not available for use in the home until 1915.
In 2020, we enjoy energy-efficient side-by-side refrigerators that filter water and make their own ice while storing our cold and frozen foods. Our ancestors would be boggled by the idea that we can grab items from the fridge and throw them into a microwave oven for an instant meal, a feat made possible ever since the invention of the domestic microwave oven in 1955.
What Will the Next 125 Years Bring?
We’re optimistic that advances will continue apace going into the next century, with developments in manufacturing and production to come that we can scarcely imagine today. And as long as organizations are building thing with metal components, the work our team does will be a part of that process. From everyone at Belmont to all of our loyal customers, here’s hoping for another outstanding 125 years and more.