Westinghouse, George

Westinghouse, George

biographical name


Westinghouse—Courtesy of Westinghouse Electric Corporation

(born Oct. 6, 1846, Central Bridge, N.Y., U.S.—died March 12, 1914, New York, N.Y.) U.S. inventor and industrialist. He served in the American Civil War. His first major invention was an air brake (patented 1869), which was eventually made compulsory on all American trains. He developed a railway signaling system and later introduced many innovations in piping natural gas. His major achievement was the adoption by the U.S. of alternating current (AC) for electric power transmission. The electrical system being developed in the U.S. in the 1880s used direct current (DC), though AC systems were being developed in Europe. Westinghouse purchased the patents for Nikola Tesla's AC motor and hired Tesla to improve and modify the motor for use in his power system. In 1886 he incorporated the predecessor of Westinghouse Electric Corp. He eventually prevailed over powerful opposition from advocates of DC power, and in 1893 his company was hired to light the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago. He also obtained the rights to develop the great falls of the Niagara River with AC generators. See also electric current.

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