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"We are all repositories for genetically-encoded information that we're all spreading back and forth amongst each other, all the time. We're just lousy with information."
- Neal Stephenson

Electric Protection-Wires (Electrified Fence)  
  An electric fence.  

Adjusting the electric protection-wires that were to paralyze any creature that attempted to come within the circle, and would arouse them by ringing a bell, he knocked the ashes from his pipe, rolled himself in a blanket, and was soon asleep beside his friends.
From A Journey In Other Worlds, by John Jacob Astor IV.
Published by D. Appleton and Co. in 1894
Additional resources -

Another excerpt:

Arranging a double line of electric wires in a circle about the mastodon and themselves, they sat down and did justice to the meal, with appetites that might have dismayed the waiting throng. Whenever a snake's head came in contact with one wire, while his tail touched the other, he gave a spasmodic leap and fell back dead. If he happened to fall across the wires, he immediately began to sizzle, a cloud of smoke arose, and lie was reduced to ashes.

As far as I know, the first instance of the idea of an electrified fence or railing occurs in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from A Journey In Other Worlds
  More Ideas and Technology by John Jacob Astor IV
  Tech news articles related to A Journey In Other Worlds
  Tech news articles related to works by John Jacob Astor IV

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