135th Anniversary—The History of POWER magazine

POWER magazine was launched in 1882, just as the world was beginning to grasp the implications of a new, versatile form of energy: electricity. During its 135-year history, the magazine’s pages have reflected the fast-changing evolution of the technologies and markets that characterize the world’s power sector today.

The History of POWER is the History of Power


From the very beginning, POWER has kept editorial pace with fast-developing technology and a market strongly influenced by economic growth. As was common for early business magazines, POWER has been an outlet for technical content, but it has also reflected the proliferation of new products, scientific advances, and a large volume of news.  For more on POWER magazine’s history, see “The History of POWER is the History of Power.” 

Here are compelling excerpts from the magazine’s voluminous pages over the 14 decades it has been published: “135th Anniversary—Excerpts from the pages of POWER (SLIDESHOW).

1890s: This excerpt from the 1890s, from a European correspondent, describes a proposal to harness the power of ocean currents traversing a 12-mile-wide narrow strip of sea between Ireland and Scotland. That project across the Mull of Kintyre never came to fruition—and to this date, deliberations about building even a crossing there between the two countries continue to attract debate. As curious is this photograph of diners, in black-tie, eating on linen inside an engine cylinder, a butler standing outside waiting to replenish their glasses.

An unusual—and spectacular—strategy developed by POWER’s editors over the years was the “humanizing” of engineering. As one editor in 1997 noted, “First the editors created a fictional George Edwards character whose anecdotes and tips provided readers with engineering instruction wrapped in a friendly, small-town vernacular. This proved so successful that it was followed by a somewhat similar The Old Chief character, another down-to-earth feature that enjoyed solid popularity.” But POWER’s true “mascot” emerged in 1947, when Associate Editor Steve Elonka invented a Marmaduke Surfaceblow fictional series that was to run some four hundred episodes. Read more about Marmaduke in our special 135th anniversary supplement: “Engineering a Legacy: Marmaduke Surfaceblow.”

A teller of tales. Marmaduke Surfaceblow was introduced to POWER magazine readers in 1948. He was known for his imposing size, signature mustache, and affinity for cigars and gin, along with an ability to solve complex engineering problems that baffled others. Courtesy: POWER magazine archives

In 2007, POWER’s editors combed through the archives and published a series titled “This Month in POWER,” which highlights specific articles from that month. From POWER’s archives, here’s “This Month in POWER” for October.


—Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor

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