The Electric Light, or Harvard As It Might Be.

Probably few of the students at Harvard are aware of the fact that not far from here is an establishment which might, did the faculty so will it, make an entire change in our life and comforts. About four months ago a German inventor, Frederick Schaefer, opened a factory in Cambridgeport for the purpose of building electrical dynamos, lamps, and all the other necessities for electric lighting, after models which he had himself invented. Many improvements over the old dynamos and lamps have been made, especially in the lamps, the filaments of which are made of a silk thread, instead of the bamboo strips and other substances used by other inventors, the great advantages of which seem to be that the silk is perfectly pliable after being carbonized, that the lamps thus constructed require less power to produce lights than heretofore, and lastly, that these filaments can be manufactured in great numbers in a very short time, and at a trifling cost.

The dynamos are also considerably modified, thought the differences are not evident to the untrained eye, as in the case of the lamps. The inventor claims for these dynamos a capacity of fifteen or more lamps per horse power against eight or ten by all other systems. But the great interest to the public at large, and to Harvard students in particular, lies in the fact that these new machines can be constructed so cheaply as to be no more expensive than gas, so that there is no reason why we should not all have the electric lights in our rooms, if the faculty would only undertake it, just as they now manage steam heat in the buildings. The following figures will, perhaps, explain more fully what I mean. There are about three hundred and twenty rooms in the yard; for each room the occupant burns on an average six dollars worth of gas and kerosene per year; those men who save on their gas bills making up the average by means of kerosene. This makes an annual bill to the students of nineteen hundred and twenty dollars. Now for this money what could we obtain in the way of light by means of electricity? Nine hundred lamps would be amply sufficient for all purposes, especially if they were movable, as it must be remembered that in many of the single rooms, as for instance in Grays, two lamps would be plenty, which would leave three or more for the remaining rooms. To run these nine hundred lights would require one large dynamo or several smaller ones, which would cost six thousand dollars. To drive these there would be necessary a seventy-five horse power steam engine, which, with the boiler-house, et cetera, would cost about ten thousand dollars. Part of this expense might not be necessary, as the university already possesses two small engines near the Jefferson Laboratory, which could be used for the purpose. Leaving these out of the question, for though they would of course, reduce the initial expense, they are now used for other purposes which would probably conflict; and besides they are not necessary to enable electricity to make a good showing against gas. Besides the expenses just mentioned, there would be a further expense of wiring the buildings, putting in the lamps, and other incidentals, which would amount to about four thousand dollars thus bringing the sum total of the original outlay required to about twenty thousand dollars. Furthermore, there would be the annual expense of running engines and the money for repairs. As the college is only open about two hundred and seventy days in the year, these two charges would be amply covered by the sums of two hundred and fifty, and six hundred and fifty dollars, allowing a trifle over ninety cents per day as the cost of running the engines ten hours a day, which would be much more than sufficient, as this is a maximum allowance, and as the whole nine hundred lights would not be burning all these ten hours, there would be a sufficiency of electricity stored up in accumulators greatly to reduce the average running time per day.

These annual current expenses amount to nine hundred dollars. If, therefore, the college charges for the light furnished the same price that the light now costs the students, namely, nineteen hundred and twenty dollars, or nineteen hundred dollars in round numbers, it will not only receive money enough to pay current expenses, but will have a surplus of one thousand dollars, which is five per cent on the original outlay, which is a very fair return on money invested. Add to these purely business considerations that you would be giving the students a far better quality of light than they now enjoy, and one which no vitiating effect on the atmosphere, and it is evident that the college would be conferring a great benefit to the students at no expense to itself. In addition, the college would then have it in its power to light the library without the fear of fire, thus granting an inestimable boon to the many hard working students who can only visit it during the day time. After having gone through the subject in its details, I will now present it in a tubular form, so that the situation may easily be grasped by everyone.



Stock, $20,000

Interest at 5 per cent., 1,000


Total resources, $22,900


To gas company, $1,900


Total liabilities, $1,900

Surplus resources, $2,100


Steam engine, $10,000