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Electricity in the Home

Monitor-top refrigerator, ca. 1927

Monitor-top refrigerator, ca. 1927

Item 74888 info
Maine Historical Society

Promoting Electric Usage

In the early twentieth century, many people saw electricity as a luxury and some were reluctant to adopt it. Homes often had only one or a few single bulbs hanging from a cord.

To increase electrical demand, utility companies marketed appliances to their customers and often offered lower rates for increased consumption levels.

General Electric introduced this refrigerator, with a top-mounted icing unit and traditional-looking "furniture" legs, in 1927.

The American public soon dubbed it the "Monitor-Top," after the icing unit's resemblance to the turret on the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.

The refrigerator, which retailed for about half the price of competing models, soon became GE's most successful product.

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