Monday, March 29, 2021

George Westinghouse: An inventor and progressive industrialist

October 6, 1846, in Central Bridge, New York. When he was 10, his family moved to Schenectady, where his father opened a shop that manufactured agricultural machinery. George spent a great deal of time working and tinkering there. He attended college for only 3 months in 1865, dropping out soon after obtaining his first patent on October 31, 1865 for a rotary steam engine.

He served in the Union army and navy during the Civil War and then attended Union College before striking out on his own.

George Westinghouse was both an imaginative tinkerer and a bold entrepreneur. His inventions had a profound effect on nineteenth-century transportation and industrial development in the United States.

In April 1869, he patented an air brake that enabled the engineer to stop all the cars in tandem. By the time he was 40 years old, he had formed the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, developed a system of pipes to conduct natural gas safely into homes, and invented the gas meter.

He organized the Westinghouse Electric Company in 1886, which he used as a base to advocate successfully the alternate current system. By 1886, the Westinghouse Electric Company had quietly begun using alternating current to power retailers in the small town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and in Buffalo, New York.

His electric company became one of the greatest electric manufacturing organizations in the United States, and his influence abroad was evident by the many companies he founded in other countries.

The financial panic of 1907 caused Westinghouse to lose control of his companies. He spent much of his last years in public service. Westinghouse died in 1914 and left a legacy of 361 patents in his name—the final one received four years after his death.
George Westinghouse: An inventor and progressive industrialist

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