In the late 1800s, electricity began to find many applications. Electric power companies were beginning to emerge and create distribution system networks to bring power to locations where industrial and consumer uses were abounding. The electric lightbulb slowly began to replace gas lamps. The power companies needed to measure the electricity usage by their customers in order to bill them. In 1879, Thomas Edison began his electric power and light industries which had multiple power generators that needed accurate measurements of wattage, voltage and amperage. Edison started out with billing on a per-lamp rate. He moved on to a better system comprised of a jar-based chemical device with two zinc plates connected across a shunt in the customerís circuit. The jars were weighed monthly to determine what the customer would pay according to the weight gained from the month before.
Along came Weston after being hired as a consultant to come up with a way to measure the efficiency of a generator, which took him about a week. This effort led Weston to begin the inventions of equipment that would be more stable, robust, portable and calibrated. Prior such designs suffered changes due to the Earthís magnetic field and the absence of permanent magnets. These previous designs by others were very sensitive to resistive heating during measurement and were not very accurate and repeatable. Westonís inventions took care of these problems and ultimately became the international standard of measurement which facilitated the spread and growth of electricity usage.