Before 1948, there was something funny about the Southland's electricity. Plug in a clock from New York and it would lose 10 minutes every hour. Spin a record on a turntable from San Francisco and it would sound deep and drowsy. Some gadgets wouldn't work at all.
The problem? Southern California's power grid ran on a different frequency. Like the rest of the U.S., the region was wired for 120 volts, but its alternating current pulsed out of power plants and into electrical sockets at a slower rate—50 cycles per second (or 50hz) versus than the national 60hz standard.