Anderson Plug Powerpole History

Anderson Plug Powerpole History

Anderson Plug began 1877 when the company converted an old brewery in downtown Boston into a foundry. One of the first projects was to cast various parts for the Boston Trolley Transit System. Product development and inventions such as the trolley pole, invented by Johan M. Anderson in 1890, put us on the map. The trolley pole was used in the overhead system of electric railways, providing a simple compact, efficient and durable supporting mechanism. APP received multiple awards for the Anderson brothers’ innovative trolley and railway designs.

1953 An inventor by the name of Edward D. “Don” Winkler, working for Albert & J.M. Anderson Mfg. Co, filed a patent for the first Storage Battery Connector (SB®-2). The introduction of the SB-2 saw its roots in a request from industrial fork lift manufacturers for a more robust connection. Variations on this pioneering little two-piece device have powered everything from forklifts to wheelchairs to golf carts. It has evolved numerous times and been imitated even more. Even today, companies are still “introducing” their own, often inferior, versions of Winkler’s invention from 50 years ago.

Our Storage Battery connector saw a number of different iterations in the 50’s and 60’s, including the single piece SB50 design which featured the extra-high heat resistance of General Electric’s Lexan material, the single piece SB350 with four different voltage keys, and the SB175 with contacts that were now made of pure copper (replacing brass contacts). During this period, the SB connector had gained wide acceptance in the forklift industry and had for all intents and purposes replaced spring-loaded button contact and pin/socket contact technologies.

1964 Anderson Plug answered the call of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in San Francisco, CA with the invention and introduction of the company’s second principle line of product, the Powerpole® family of connectors. Featuring a flat wiping contact system, an interchangeable genderless design, silver plated contacts, and modular designs, We had UL Safety Agency approval on the Powerpole by 1964. Powerpole connectors (PP15/45 and PP75) were first utilized aboard BART trains, and are still making the connection on these trains today.

In the early 70’s, APP and the Powerpole entered the office furniture and equipment market. The PP15/45 was used by such manufacturers of office furniture as Steel Case, Hayworth and Herman Miller, and is still used today by several manufacturers of customized office wiring. The operating voltages for this connector are 120 to 208 volt AC in a number of applications, and 30 amps per pole on 10 AWG copper cable. The Powerpoles also found their way into wheelchairs, floor sweepers and power supplies during this decade. There arose many new markets and applications for the Powerpole in the 90’s, including rack and panel applications in UPS systems, wireless telecom equipment, and medical applications. There were also a number of product enhancements, as the Powerpole, like its SB sibling, continued to evolve. For example, in the mid-90’s, we developed a touch safety/finger-proof Powerpole for high voltage DC applications. Also, for higher temperatures, we added a Powerpole with a higher heat deflection plastic.

1968 After an initial public offering at the end of 1966, we relocated our headquarters to a better facility in Brighton, MA. From here we continued to broaden our product offering and expand our markets. In 1970, due to higher demands in the Material Handling markets in Europe, the company opened its first warehouse in Ireland to serve the European continent.


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