I think the standard probably had its origins a bit further: My 1919
Westinghouse Catalogue lists control desks that have sections of 16,
20, 24, and 32" wide. The section was covered by a panel that spanned
the width of the cabinet - the equipment was intended to be mounted
on this panel. From the drawings it looks like the actual space
within the sections would be an inch or so less - the specifications
are a bit lacking. A 3'x20" rack with side panels ran $817.50!
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